Unbiased in the Flanders Case, Says Slaton

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, July 5, 1913

New Governor Declares He Will Take Action After Hearing All Sides.

Governor Slaton has formed no opinion in the famous McNaughton-Mattie Flanders murder case, and says he will make no decision until he has heard all sides. The new Governor says he has not talked to the former Governor about the case. He will hear, he said, all arguments without prejudice.

It is known that the hopes of McNaughton’s friends for commutation of sentence, if not pardon, have been greatly strengthened now that Governor Slaton is in the executive office.

The statement, made time and again, to the effect that Mrs. Mattie Flanders, alleged co-conspirator with Dr. W. J. McNaughton, never will be tried, has been renewed now that Governor Brown, who stood so long between Dr. McNaughton and the gallows, has been succeeded.

It was said months ago to be the purpose of those urging that the law be permitted to take its course against Dr. McNaughton to kick the case along from one court to another until a change in administrations had been effected in Atlanta. Governor Brown let it be known all along that he would not permit Dr. McNaughton to hang so long as the case against Mrs. Flanders remained undisposed of.

Waiting Game Played.

The case against Mrs. Flanders was passed along from one court to another until last March. Governor Brown respited the doctor to September 5, which sets the date of his execution well into Governor Slaton’s term. Had the case against Mrs. Flanders been nol-prossed in Governor Brown’s term of office there is little, if any, doubt that Dr. McNaughton’s sentence of death would have been promptly commuted to life imprisonment, or less, even if he was not pardoned outright. Governor Brown is known to have viewed the evident disinclination of the State to push the case against Mrs. Flanders as a circumstance in Dr. McNaughton’s favor, but whether Governor Slaton will take that view of it is problematical.

It will be contended that the State dare not try the case against Mrs. Flanders for fear [of thereby] acquitting her alleged accomplice, Dr. McNaughton. It is freely admitted that all hope of convicting Mrs. Flanders in Emanuel County has been abandoned. Partisans of Dr. McNaughton contend that if she is not guilty, the doctor can not possibly be guilty. They hold that Mrs. Flanders’ cooperation in the killing of Fred Flanders, her husband, was necessarily essential to the conviction of Dr. McNaughton.

State Charged Conspiracy.

The State’s original theory of the killing of Fred Flanders was that his murder was effected through criminal conspiracy between Dr. McNaughton and Flanders’ wife, the motive being to secure the life insurance of Flanders, and to promote an alleged too ardent intimacy between Mrs. Flanders and McNaughton.

McNaughton’s attorneys hold that if Mrs. Flanders is not guilty [of] her part of the original allegations, Dr. McNaughton can not be, and this is the point of view that will be urged upon the new Executive.

Those who have studied this case are generally firm in the belief that McNaughton never will hang, if the case against Mrs. Flanders is dropped.

Public With McNaughton.

Public opinion, which originally was very strong against Dr. McNaughton, is said to have swung around very much in his favor of late, and his attorneys now contend that he would be freed of all charges, if he might be tried again in Emanuel County. They say that opinion is heavily favorable to him now.

He has been in prison more than two years, awaiting the disposition of the case against his alleged co-conspirator, and has been respited half a dozen times pending her trial.

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The Atlanta Georgian, July 5th 1913, “Unbiased in the Flanders Case, Says Slaton,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)