New Move in Phagan Case by Solicitor

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 6, 1913

Dorsey Will Endeavor to Force Defense to Disclose Their Documentary Evidence.

ACT IS COUNTERSTROKE

Frank’s Attorneys Said to Have Affidavits Exonerating Frank and Indicating Conley’s Guilt.

A sensational turn in the Phagan murder mystery, according to one of the attorneys for the defense, will develop next week when Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey issues a subpena duces tecum on Attorneys Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben Arnold, citing them to produce all the affidavits they have secured that bear on the crime.

The movement is in the nature of a counterstroke to block the pending subpenas duces tecum filed by the defense, citing the State to produce all the affidavits that have been secured.

The defense strongly maintains that it will win its point and that the prosecution will suffer. The attorneys say that the Constitution of the State clearly outlines the action of the court in such matters—”that the defendant is entitled to be faced with all the evidence against him”—while the prosecution will labor under the handicap that “a defendant is innocent until he is proven guilty.”

Dorsey Is Silent.

While no announcement would be made by Solicitor Dorsey relative to the contemplated subpenas duces tecum, it was intimated by him that such action might be taken at an early date, and that when it was the defense and the prosecution would lock horns in the first decisive battle in the sensational case.

Affidavits that are sought by the defense are the three different sworn statements of the negro, Jim Conley, the affidavit given by the negro cook at the Frank home, Minola McKnight, the Formby affidavit and the affidavit of Monteen Stover, the girl who stated that she entered Frank’s office at a time when he said he was there, and found the office deserted.

The State will seek to obtain affidavits contradicting their theory and placing the crime on the negro sweeper, Jim Conley. These affidavits are said to deal principally with the time different witnesses entered and left the factory April 26, the most vital question in the trial.

Affidavits of Defense.

The defense is said to be in possession of affidavits that show Monteen Stover entered and departed from the factory before Mary Phagan’s car reached the heart of the city; that the negro Jim Conley entered the factory earlier in the day than he said he did, and that he, instead of the indicted pencil factory superintendent, committed the murder, because the superintendent left the factory at least ten minutes before Conley said he helped him dispose of the body, and that the Formby affidavit, a one-time sensational bit of evidence substantiating the defense, was given by the woman at the behest of the police detectives without regard for its accuracy, and that Mrs. Formby has since admitted that she never knew Leo M. Frank or heard of him until he was held as a suspect in connection with the murder.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 6th 1913, “New Move in Phagan Case by Solicitor,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Application to Release Lee is Ready to File

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 6, 1913

Negro’s Lawyer Says He Will Offer Habeas Corpus When Solicitor Dorsey Returns.

On account of the absence from the city of Prosecuting Attorney Hugh M. Dosey [sic], Bernard L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, announced Saturday that he would not file a writ of habeas corpus until Monday. He claims in the petition for the release of the negro that Lee is being held unlawfully and without any charge against him.

Solicitor Dorsey left for his country place at Valdosta, Ga., Saturady [sic] morning. He will return Monday.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey will ask the courts to hold the negro as a material witness for the State, or may charge him with being an accessory. He was determined Friday to take no chances on so important a witness getting out of his control, as he feared the negro might get beyond the jurisdiction of the courts if given his liberty.

Attorney Chappell and Solicitor Dorsey had agreed, when the negro was committed to jail, to keep him there until the trial. Chappell notified Dorsey Wednesday that he wished to withdraw from the agreement and get his client freed.

Chief Discounts Conley Rumor.

The announcement Friday that the defense had secured an important and damaging affidavit that connected the State’s star witness, Jim Conley, more directly with the crime created a sensation in the ranks of the prosecution.

Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford announced that every movement of the negro on the day of the crime had been “checked up,” and that it was a matter of impossibility to find anything more damaging against him than his admission that he helped dispose of the body at the request of Frank.

In commenting on the affidavit secured at the office of Joseph H. Leavitt Thursday the attorney said that it would be almost impossible for the prosecution to break down any statement that was made in the affidavit when the witness was placed on the stand.

Calls Evidence Vital.

He said the witness was a citizen of high standing and would be one of the most important for the defense of Frank.

Attorney Leavitt said that this particular affidavit was one of more than 50 that had been recently secured that dealt almost exclusively with the movements of the negro on the day of the murder. While he would not comment at any length, he intimated that the defense had been able to establish conclusively the exact time Conley entered and left the factory.

He also intimated that affidavits had been secured that would show what time Monteen Stover entered and left the factory and be able to prove she left before Mary Phagan’s car reached the vicinity of the pencil factory.

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The Atlanta Georgian, July 6th 1913, “Application to Release Lee is Ready to File,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Liberty for Newt Lee Sought

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, July 5, 1913

Writ to Free Watchman From the Tower Will Be Filed—State to Oppose Liberation.

The prosecution will fight an entirely new angle in the Phagan case Saturday morning when Barnard [sic] L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, files a writ of habeas corpus for the release of the negro from the Tower, where he is being held without any charge against him.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey will ask the courts to hold the negro as a material witness for the State, or may charge him with being an accessory. He was determined Friday to take no chances on so important a witness getting out of his control, as he feared the negro might get beyond the jurisdiction of the courts if given his liberty.

Attorney Chappell and Solicitor Dorsey had agreed, when the negro was committed to jail, to keep him there until the trial. Chappell notified Dorsey Wednesday that he wished to withdraw from the agreement and get his client freed.

Chief Discounts Conley Rumor.

Continue Reading →

Leo Frank Answers List of Questions Bearing on Points Made Against Him

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Constitution

Monday, March 9, 1914

Stated That He Was Willing to Reply to Any Questions That Might Be in the Mind of the Public, and Asked to Answer Any Such That Might Be Propounded to Him.

TELLS HOW JIM CONLEY COULD HAVE SLAIN GIRL AND ESCAPED DETECTION

Asserts That Very Fact That He Admitted He Had Seen Mary Phagan on the Day of the Murder, Thus Placing Himself Under Suspicion, Was Proof in Itself That He Was Innocent of Crime.

Probably the most interesting statement yet issued by Leo M. Frank in connection with the murder for which he has been sentenced to hang, is one that he has furnished to The Constitution in the form of a series of answers to questions which were propounded to him bearing on the case.

These questions were prepared by a representative of The Constitution who visited Frank at the Tower last week.

“Ask me any questions you wish,” Frank told the reporter.

In accordance with that, the reporter wrote out a list of questions which, he asserted, comprised the most salient points the prosecution had brought out against him, and to each of these Frank has given an answer.

Here Are Questions.

Continue Reading →

Stover Girl Will Star in Frank Trial

Judge L.S. Roan, who will preside at trial of alleged slayer of Mary Phagan.

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 26, 1913

State, However, Must Prove She Entered Factory Before Mary Phagan.

With the selection of the court room made Thursday, all is virtually in readiness for the trial of Leo M. Frank, accused of strangling Mary Phagan. The venire of jurymen has been selected and July 28 is fixed as the date, and both sides have announced they are ready to go into court.

A definite decision was reached by Judge L. S. Roan to hold the trial on the first floor of the old City Hall building. The decision was reached after a conference with Solicitor General Dorsey, and it was represented as impracticable to hold the trial in the small and not well-ventilated court room in the Thrower building.

The State is maintaining its determined attitude toward the subpenas duces tecum issued by the defense. Frank A. Hooper, assisting in the prosecution, has branded them as a palpable trick to discredit the testimony of the State’s witnesses.

Girl Star Witness.

The witnesses will be present with the affidavits called for, but a hot fight will be put up by Solicitor Dorsey and Attorney Hooper to prevent their use by the defense.

Monteen Stover, a timid little 14-year-old girl, will be a star witness in the trial [of Leo M. Frank July 28 on the charge of strangling Mary Phagan in the National Pencil Factory],* according to all indications Thursday.

[The frequency with which she has been called upon to repeat her story of going to the factory on the day of the crime and finding Frank absent from his office is taken as an almost certain indication that the prosecution regards her statements of the utmost importance.]

The State, if it is able to establish that Monteen Stover entered the factory on the day of the crime just after Mary Phagan went inside, will have scored a most significant victory. The evidence will still be circumstantial, it is true, but it will be of greater weight even than the weird stories of the negro sweeper, Jim Conley, who has sworn that he aided Frank in disposing of the body.

Adds to Mystery.

Her story; however, until it is substantiated or disproved in court, only adds to the mystery of a crime which already abounds in baffling and mysterious phases. Her appearance on the witness stand may mean everything or nothing—because there is the startling fact that every indication points to Monteen Stover having entered the factory BEFORE Mary Phagan. Continue Reading →

Conley, Put on Grill, Sticks Story

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 25, 1913

Police Resume Questioning of the Negro Sweeper Who Accuses Leo Frank.

Puzzled by several of the statements of Jim Conley in regard to his part in the happenings the day that Mary Phagan was killed, the police have resumed the questioning from which the negro had been free since he was taken to the police station by the detectives.

One point that has not been cleared up is why Conley saw every one else that went into or left the factory and yet failed to see Mary Phagan.

Conley, on Sunday, was confronted by Monteen Stover. He identified her as the girl he saw enter the factory shortly after 12 o’clock on the day of the crime. Yet he still maintains that he did not see Mary Phagan, although Mary must have entered the factory either just before or just after the Stover girl was in the building. The evidence in the possession of the State shows that there could hardly have been more than three to five minutes intervening between the times that the two girls were in the factory.

Want Clearer Statement.

Conley has been asked to explain this apparently improbable circumstance. Conley at first denied that he had seen Lemmie Quinn in the factory on the Saturday of the murder. Later he said he had seen the factory foreman. Which statement is believed by the State is not known. What explanation is made by the negro for lying in regard to the matter also is conjectural.

Mary Phagan left her home on April 26 at about 11:50 o’clock. Living in Bellwood, it is regarded as unlikely that she reached the factory in less than 25 minutes, or at 12:15. Monteen Stover had testified that she visited the factory at about 12:10, which would be just before Mary Phagan had entered the factory, if the times testified to are correct.

Conley, on this account, has been asked if he saw, from his vantage point behind the boxes, Monteen Stover enter the factory at 12:10 o’clock, and Lemmie Quinn enter at 12:20, why he did not see Mary Phagan when she entered in the interval between the visits of the Stover girl and Lemmie Quinn.

Sticks to His Story.

Another point on which he has been questioned is as to how he could have left his home at the time he has testified and visit all the saloons of which he has told and still meet Frank at Nelson and Forsyth Streets as Frank was on his way to Montag Bros. factory. Frank, according to the statements of members of the Montag firm, was in their building by 10 o’clock. Yet the things that Conley has testified to doing would have taken him until considerably after 10 o’clock, according to a conservative estimate. Continue Reading →

Trial of Leo Frank Postponed by Judge

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Constitution

Wednesday, June 25, 1913

Date of Trial Changed From June 30 Until July 28 at Plea of Attorneys for Defense.

The first appearance in open court of the indictment against Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan came yesterday afternoon when Judge L. S. Roan, presiding over the criminal division of superior court, summoned attorneys for both sides, and after a hearing changed the date of trial from June 30, as set by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, to July 28.

This and the legal move by the defense in serving upon Solicitor Dorsey, Police Chief James L. Beavers, Detective Chief Newport Lanford and other detectives and officials for the state, with formal subpoenas duces tecum, commanding them to bring to court all affidavits they may have which bear upon the state’s case against Frank, were the only changes in the present situation.

Judge Roan also decided that the trial of Frank would be held not in the regular room in which he holds his division of court, but in one of the rooms in which the civil division of the superior court sits.

Where Trial Will be Held.

This was done, the judge explained, because the ceiling is very low in the courtroom in the Thrower building, where his court regularly sits, and the room is ventilated by windows only on one side. The trial will be held, according to present plans, in one of the courtrooms in the old city hall, corner South Pryor and East Hunter streets, where the ceilings are higher and windows can be thrown open on both sides of the room to allow ventilation. Continue Reading →

Both Sides Are Ready for Trial of Frank

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, June 25, 1913

Few Developments Expected Between Now and July 28, Conley Is Grilled

The statements made by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and by Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser, the counsel for the defense before the postponement of the trial of Leo M. Frank from June 30, the date set by the solicitor, to July 28, indicate very strongly that neither side expects further developments of importance in the investigation.

Mr. Dorsey told the court that his case was complete and that he was ready for trial. All of the statements by Attorneys Arnold and Rosser indicate that they also have completed the preparation of the defense and are ready for the court fight.

One of the most interesting of the statements made by counsel was that of Mr. Arnold, who said that it would take two weeks to try the case, showing that the defense will have many witnesses, and will come to court prepared to fight every inch in the case.

The action of the defense in demanding through subpoenas duces tecum practically all of the affidavits of importance which have been made the detectives during the Phagan investigation seems to bear out the theory published in The Journal that the defense will consist of the corroboration of Frank’s story as told at the inquest by a number of witnesses, and of an effort to establish, largely by the detectives themselves, the thory [sic] that the negro James Conley is guilty of the crime with which Frank is charged.

It is certain that Conley’s story will be attacked through his many varying affidavits, and much evidence to assist Frank will be brought out through the city detectives, who charge him with the crime.

The substance of all of the affidavits demanded by the defense is known. Conley’s varying affidavits have long formed one of the sensations of the case. Miss Grace Hix, it will be remembered, identified Mary Phagan’s body, while Miss Monteen Stover declares that she came to the pencial [sic] factory of the date of the tragedy at 12:05 o’clock and found no one in the office, not even Frank, who had testified that he was there at that hour. Continue Reading →

Both Sides Called in Conference by Judge; Trial Set for July 28

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Dorsey, Beavers and Lanford Summoned to Appear June 30 With All Affidavits They Have Secured Relative to the Phagan Slaying Case.

Just before the conference with both sides in the Frank case started Judge Roan intimated strongly that he would set the case for July 14 or July 28 and hold it in some more commodious court room than the one in which he sits on the fourth floor of the Thrower building. Judge Roan’s personal inclination leans to a date in July, and it is not likely that the State or defense will object to acceding to his wishes.

The date was definitely fixed for July 28 at the conference.

The first important legal move by the defense in the battle for the life and freedom of Leo Frank, accused of the strangling of Mary Phagan, was made Tuesday in the issuance of subpenas duces tecum for the prime movers in the prosecution of the factory superintendent.

The following have been subpenaed to appear:

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, who will prosecute the prisoner.

Chief of Police James L. Beavers, who was the leader in obtaining incriminating affidavits.

Pinkerton Detective Harry Scott, to whom is generally given credit for the admissions gained from Conley.

All other city detectives who have worked on the case.

All of them are ordered to produce any affidavits they may have bearing on the case in court June 30, indicating that the defense will be prepared to go on with the trial at that time.

Judge Roan, however, had called a conference of the attorneys on both sides of the case for 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when he announced that he would set the date definitely after the attorneys had been given an opportunity to say whether or not their cases would be in shape to present if the trial were called the last of this month.

Plan to Use Same Evidence.

The startling move on the part of the defense was taken to mean that Frank’s lawyers propose to use to free their client the very evidence the detectives and Solicitor General have collected to send him to the gallows.

The most significant demand is made upon Chief Beavers, who is commanded to bring into court the famed series of affidavits made by the negro sweeper, Jim Conley. It is evident that Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, who are conducting the defense, intend to tear the contradictory stories of the negro to tatters and make his statements so utterly ridiculous and improbable that the jury not only will refuse to accept them, but will interpret them as an effort of Conley to get from under the blame for a crime that he committed himself. Continue Reading →

July 28 Is Date Agreed Upon for Trial of Frank

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Judge Names Date After Statement From Reuben R. Arnold, In Which He Said Trial Would Last Two Weeks

DEFENSE TAKES STEPS TO GET STATE’S EVIDENCE

Subpenas Duces Tecum Issued, Demanding Production of Affidavits and Popers [sic] in Possession of Solicitor

Leo M. Frank, accused of the slaying of Mary Phagan, will not be tried before superior court Judge L. S. Roan next Monday. The judge in a conference with attorneys at 2 o’clock Tuesday afternoon formally set the trial for Monday, July 28, and no attempt to reopen the questions of arraignment will be made. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed to this date.

Any attempt made to put Frank on trial on next Monday was silenced when Reuben R. Arnold, speaking for the defense, said flatly that the trial would take at least two weeks. The assurance that the trial would last some time and the fact that it likely would be held in the stuffy little court room in the Thrower building, if scheduled Monday, practically caused the postponement.

Solicitor Dorsey, for the state, and Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, for the prosecution, were summoned to the court house by Judge Roan at 3 o’clock and a discussion of the matter was opened.

SOLICITOR ANNOUNCED READY.

Solicitor Dorsey announced that he was ready and made the declaration that his witnesses would not take more than two days at the outside. He said if the defense had any he didn’t think they would take any longer.

This remark brought a grunt from Luther Z. Rosser and the Arnold statement that the trial would take two weeks.

“We have the witnesses,” both of the lawyers for the defense asserted.

Both Attorneys Rosser and Arnold told the court that in the event of a postponement of the case for Monday that they desired it to go over until after the week of July 14, when both would be engaged in the trial of Mattie Flanders in Swainsboro. Mr. Rosser represents the defense of Mrs. Flanders and Mr. Arnold the prosecution.

This came when Solicitor Dorsey suggested that the case be tried on July 7.

Judge Roan, in fixing July 28 as a date suitable to all concerned, said that there would be no break in the week, as there would with July 4, that a good court room for the trial could be obtained about July 13, that the jail could be cleared of routine cases by that time and previously made engamenest [sic] would not be interrupted.

All lawyers concerned were in court and the judge asserted that lack of preparation could not be offered as an excuse when the case was called on July 28.

The attorneys for Leo M. Frank Tuesday afternoon secured subpoenas duces tecum to be served on Chief James L. Beavers, Chief N. A. Lanford, Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stevens, Hary [sic] Scott, of the Pinkertons; City Detectives John Black, Pat Campbell and J. N. tSarnes [sic], and Secretary of Chief Lanford, G. C. Febuary, calling upon them to produce in court Monday June 30, or any other day that the Frank case might be on trial, all affidavits or statements secured from Jim Conley, the negro sweeper; Monteen Stover and Grace Hix. Continue Reading →

Venire of 72 for Frank Jury Is Drawn

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 23, 1913

Negro Conley Sticks to Affidavit Story When Again Cross-Examined by Dorsey.

The first official action of the court in preparing for the trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan was taken Monday afternoon when Judge L. S. Roan impaneled 72 men, from whom a jury to hear the case will be sought.

June 30 was agreed to by Judge Roan for the opening of the case. If a postponement is desired it will now have to be asked for in open court.

As yet Judge Roan said he had received no intimation from the defense that a delay was wanted. Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey said Monday the prosecution was ready for trial.

Trial in Thrower Building.

An extra staff of deputies has been sworn in and subpenas to jurymen impaneled and witnesses are now being served.

No plans for a larger room in which to hear the case have matured, and it is likely that the courtroom of the Superior Court in the Thrower Building will be used at last, despite its size and lack of comfort.

Jim Conley, the negro sweeper, was brought before Solicitor Dorsey Monday morning for another cross-examination. The questions were solely along the lines of the negro’s affidavit charging Frank with the crime. As the Solicitor later said, he had only refreshed Conley’s mind on the points he had made in his statement. The negro told the same story he told before without deviation. Continue Reading →

Solicitor Will Fix Frank Trial for June 30, He Says

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Journal

Monday, June 23, 1913

Unless “Showing” Is Made in Open Court Why the Case Should Be Deferred, Trial Will Proceed

MONTEEN STOVER AGAIN FIGURES IN THE CASE

Detectives Question Her With View to Attacking Theory That Girl Was Slain on the First Floor

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, it was definitely learned Monday, will set the case of the State against Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, for June 30, and the solicitor will insist that a legal “showing” be made by the defense before a postponement is allowed.

During the day Monday or early on Tuesday morning the court calendar for the week of June 30 will be made up and then a small army of bailiffs and deputies will commence to summon talesmen. Owing to the unusual interest in the case it is probable that more than 150 talesmen will be summoned to the court in order that twelve jurors to try Frank may be picked from them.

COURT WON’T INTERFERE.

It is understood that the court of its own volition will not interfere in the matter, and if a postponement of the case is secured it will be on a “legal showing” made in open court next Monday by the attorneys, who represent the accused man.

The illness of one of counsel or the absence from the city of a material witness or the engagement of counsel in another court, or any one of several other perfectly good excuses constitute legal grounds for the postponement of case, so the uncompromising attitude of the state by no means makes the trial of the case on June 30 a certanity [sic].

Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, the able attorneys, who represent Frank, will give no intimation of their attitude towards entering into the case next Monday.

The published rumor that John W. Moore, another noted Atlanta lawyer, would assist Attorneys Arnold and Rosser and Herbert Haas in the case is without foundation, according to Mr. Moore and the other attorneys connected with the case.

WITNESS QUESTIONED.

What is believed by the prosecution of Leo M. Frank to be a refutation of the defense’s theory that Mary Phagan was slain at the foot of the stairs on the first floor of the pencil factory, occurred at police headquarters Sunday afternoon, when Jim Conley, the negro, identified Monteen Stover, aged 14, 17 South Forsyth street, as the girl in the raincoat and “easy walkers” who went to the office on the second floor at 12:05 o’clock and came down the stairs five or ten minutes later and left the building.

The little Stover girl was taken before Conley in the detectives’ room Sunday and positively identified by the negro, according to the detectives who were present, Chief Lanford and Detectives Campbell and Starnes.

Conley declared that she was the girl he watched while he was hid at the foot of the tsairs [sic]. The Stover girl entered the building, went up the stairs to the office, stayed there some five or ten minutes, and then came down and went out.

J. C. Hines, who went to headquarters with Walter Sudderth and Mr. Edmundson, pointed out Monteen Stover as the girl whom he saw enter the building. Continue Reading →

100 Years Ago Today: Leo Frank Takes the Stand

Leo-Frank-on-the-Witness-StandOriginally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

In a few days the Mercury will present Week Three of the trial of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan. Today, on the 100th anniversary of Leo Frank taking the stand in his own defense, we present a digest of opinion and contemporary sources on his statement.

AT THE CLIMAX of the Leo Frank trial, an admission was made by the defendant that amounted to a confession during trial. How many times in the annals of US legal history has this happened? Something very unusual happened during the month-long People v. Leo M. Frank murder trial, held within Georgia’s Fulton County Superior Courthouse in the Summer of 1913. I’m going to show you evidence that Mr. Leo Max Frank inadvertently revealed the solution to the Mary Phagan murder mystery.

Leo Frank

Leo Frank

In addition to being an executive of Atlanta’s National Pencil Company, Leo Frank was also a B’nai B’rith official — president of the 500-member Gate City Lodge in 1912 — and even after his conviction and incarceration Frank was elected lodge president again in 1913. As a direct result of the Leo Frank conviction, the B’nai B’rith founded their well-known and politically powerful “Anti-Defamation League,” or ADL. Continue Reading →

Lay Bribery Effort to Frank’s Friends

Mrs. Nina Fomby, woman who made affidavit that Leo M. Frank had telephoned to her on the day of Mary Phagan's death trying to get a room for himself and a girl.

Mrs. Nina Fomby, woman who made affidavit that Leo M. Frank had telephoned to her on the day of Mary Phagan’s death trying to get a room for himself and a girl.

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, May 26th, 1913

Chief of Detectives Lanford was given two papers Monday accusing friends of Leo M. Frank of attempting to bribe a man and a woman to swear that they saw Mary Phagan at 10:30 Saturday night, April 26, at a soda fountain at Marietta and Forsyth Streets.

These papers were given Lanford by A. S. Colyar, whose entrance into the Phagan case has been marked by one sensation after another. Colyar told Lanford that the papers were copies of sworn affidavits and that he had the originals which he would produce at the proper time. The copies are not signed.

Haas Denies Charge.

Emphatic denial that he had in any manner resorted to bribery in behalf of Frank was made by Herbert Haas, well-known Atlanta attorney and friend of the pencil factory superintendent. Mr. Haas further declared that any intimation that he had sought to bribe anyone was absolutely false.

Two Affidavits Alleged.

Colyar said that one of the affidavits was signed by the woman it was sought to bribe and the other by the man, a traveling salesman. Five hundred dollars each is said by the alleged of the affidavits to have been offered to the man and the woman for their testimony.

Colyar alleges that the woman was brought here from Birmingham with the intention of inducing her to swear to the statement that she saw Mary Phagan late Saturday night. He said that he knew where she was at the present time, although the friends of Frank though that she had left the city. Continue Reading →

Frank Indicted in Phagan Case

Frank IndictedAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, May 25th, 1913

He Will Not Go to Trial Before the Latter Part of June, According to Solicitor General Dorsey.

Leo M. Frank, indicted Saturday afternoon for the murder of Mary Phagan, the 14-year-old girl whose dead body was found at 3 o’clock on the morning of April 27 in the basement of the National Pencil factory, will not go to trial before the latter part of June, according to a statement which Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey made last night.

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, who called the police to the place, was left under consideration by the grand jury. A bill of indictment charging him with the same murder was presented to the grand jury with the bill against the factory superintendent, but the grand jury failed to act, and it is believed that his case will be allowed to rest, pending the trial of the indicted man.

Both Confined in Tower.

Both Superintendent Frank and the negro, Lee, have been confined in the Tower since they were ordered held by the coroner’s jury for the murder of the girl.

In discussing the time of Frank’s trial, the solicitor stated that he could not say when it would be started.

“It will not be possible to hold it before the latter part of June,” he asserted, “and whether or not it is held then depends on a number of things. I have much work to do to get the case ready and there is also the defense to be considered, as they may secure additional time. Continue Reading →

The Leo Frank Trial: Week One

Newt-lee-custody1-340x264

Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

100 years ago today the trial of the 20th century ended its first week, shedding brilliant light on the greatest murder mystery of all time: the murder of Mary Phagan. And you are there.

by Bradford L. Huie

THE MOST IMPORTANT testimony in the first week of the trial of National Pencil Company superintendent Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan was that of the night watchman, Newt Lee (pictured, right, in custody), who had discovered 13-year-old Mary’s body in the basement of the pencil factory during his nightly rounds in the early morning darkness of April 27, 1913. Here at the Mercury we are following the events of this history-making trial as they unfolded exactly 100 years ago. We are fortunate indeed that Lee’s entire testimony has survived as part of the Leo Frank Trial Brief of Evidence, certified as accurate by both the defense and the prosecution during the appeal process. (For background on this case, read our introductory article and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.) Continue Reading →

State Didn’t Show its Case to Secure Indictment Against Superintendent Leo M. Frank

State Didn'tAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Sunday, May 24th, 1913

No Documentary Evidence Was Placed Before the Grand Jury and James Conley, the Negro Sweeper Who Made Sensational Affidavit About Writing Certain Notes at Frank’s Dictation on Day Before Tragedy, Was Not Examined by the Jury

DR. HURT COULD NOT SAY POSITIVELY THAT MARY PHAGAN HAD BEEN ASSAULTED BEFORE DEATH

Both the Other Two Witnesses Gave Their Opinion in the Affirmative—Complete Summary of Evidence on Which the Grand Jury Decided That Frank Must Stand Trial for Death of Girl—Has Lee Given New Evidence to His Attorney?

While Solicitor General H. M. Dorsey will make no statement, it is undoubtedly true that the state did not show “its hand” even in the secrecy of the grand jury room to secure the indictment Saturday of Leo M. Frank on the charge of murdering Mary Phagan.

Sharing interest with the returning of a true bill against the factory superintendent, is the sensational eleventh hour statement of James Conley that he wrote certain notes similar in language to those found by the murdered Mary Phagan at Mr. Frank’s dictation.

Despite the fact that Conley stuck to his story when vigorously cross examined by Solicitor Dorsey, it is said that the official does not fully credit the negro’s sensational statement.

It was not necessary to put the negro before the grand jury and Mr. Dorsey did not go into the details of his statement until after the true bill had been returned.

Even then he did not consider Conley’s statement of sufficient importance to secure from a safety deposit vault the notes found by the slain girl’s body, and they have never been offered to Conley for identification.

The effect of the negro’s statement on the state’s whole case is known to the solicitor alone. Its influence is apparently disturbing, and it has been said that the solicitor was preparing to introduce finger print and handwriting experts in an effort to show that Frank himself wrote the words on the two sheets of paper found in the basement of the National Pencil factory on the morning of April 27.

If Conley’s story can not be shaken, the experts will not be needed unless it is to swear to the similarity of his handwriting to that of the notes. Continue Reading →

Leo M. Frank is Indicted by Grand Jury for Mary Phagan’s Death; Negro, Newt Lee Held

Solemn Frank

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Saturday, May 24th, 1913

True Bills Against Pencil Factory Superintendent Returned Less Than Ten Minutes After Evidence Was Closed, at Noon, Saturday — Authority Quoted That He Will Be Tried During Third Week in June—Negro to Stay in Jail

SOLICITOR DORSEY DID NOT ASK JURY TO ACT ON BILL PENDING AGAINST NIGHT-WATCHMAN

Grand Jury’s Session Began Friday Morning — Many Witnesses Examined, but Not All That Solicitor Has Were Introduced Into Grand Jury Room—Charge Is That Frank Killed Mary Phagan by Choking Her With a Cord That He Tied

Leo M. Frank [pictured], superintendent of the National Pencil factory in the basement of which the slain body of Mary Phagan was found in the early morning of Sunday, April 27, stands formally charged with her death.

A grand jury indictment, a true bill charging that he killed Mary Phagan, was returned by the Fulton county grand jurors at 12:23 Saturday afternoon.

Less than ten minutes earlier, the jury had gone into executive session and Solicitor Dorsey, who had been conducting the examination of witnesses, had left the room. In the interval, the jury reached its verdict, and each of the jurors signed his name to the formal document upon which Frank will be arraigned on the charge of murder.

NO ACTION AGAINST NEWT LEE.

No action was taken with regard to the negro night watchman, Newt Lee, held by the coroner on a “suspicion” warrant for the grand jury.

Mr. Dorsey stated afterward that he had not asked the grand jury to take action with regard to Lee. It is probable, seemingly, that the grand jury will not return a “true” or “no” bill in Lee’s case until after the trial of Superintendent Frank. Continue Reading →

The Phagan Case Day by Day

The Phagan Case Day by DayAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Monday, May 12th, 1913

The history of the baffling Phagan mystery, daily recorded, is briefly as follows:

Sunday April 26—Girl’s body found in basement of pencil factory. Newt Lee, negro night watchman, who made discovery, arrested. Arthur Mullinax, street car employee, also arrested. Both held on suspicion.

Monday—Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, detained, but later released. J. M. Gantt, former bookkeeper of pencil concern and friend of dead girl, arrested in Marietta. Negro elevator boy also taken into custody. Pinkertons enter case.

Tuesday—Bloody shirt found at negro watchman’s home. Planted evidence theory advanced. Mary Phagan’s body buried. Sleuths announce they have evidence to convict. Frank confers with negro suspect.

Wednesday—Inquest begins. Newt Lee testifies. One hundred and fifty pencil factory employees summoned before coroner. George Epps, newsboy, tells of ride to uptown with Mary Phagan on her last trip.

Thursday—Frank and Lee ordered to Fulton tower on warrants issued by Coroner Donehoo. Trip made without incident. Continue Reading →

Public Now Knows All Facts in Murder Case, Say Detectives

Public Now Knows All Facts in Murder Case, Say Detectives

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Pinkertons Declare the State Has No Evidence of Importance That Hasn’t Been Given to the Newspapers

IDENTITY OF SOLICITOR’S DETECTIVE A MYSTERY

Chief Lanford Believes He Is One of Sheriff’s Capable Deputies—Gantt Questioned, Newt Lee Has Lawyer

The probe into the mystery of little Mary Phagan’s death two weeks ago still goes on.

The small army of professional, amateur, city, state and private detectives which took up the chase of the murderer soon after the horrible details of the crime became known still pursues the investigation with unabated vigor.

Solicitor Dorsey’s detective, heralded as the best in the world and admitted by the solicitor to be an A-1man, remains a mystery. Mr. Dorsey refuses to divulge his identity, and even the attaches of his office profess not to know his name. Continue Reading →