Woman Writes in Defense of Leo M. Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, May 28th, 1913

Mrs. Rebecca Brannon Declares Her Belief in Innocence of Factory Superintendent.

Mrs. Rebecca C. Brannon, 356 Forest Avenue, a well known Atlanta woman, has written a letter to The Georgian in defense of Leo M. Frank. Mrs. Brannon, in her communication, avows a strong belief in the pencil factory superintendent’s innocence, and denounces the hardships which the law has thrust upon him.

In line with its policy to present all sides of the Phagan case, The Georgian herewith prints Mrs. Brannon’s letter:

In the name of God, humanity, and justice, I beg the public to suspend judgment in the case of Mr. Leo M. Frank, indicted for the murder of Mary Phagan, until he has had a fair trial before a jury of his peers.

I consider Mr. Frank an innocent man. Is it because he is a Jew that the negro’s word is taken as gospel truth, and reflection cast on his testimony? From the first, pap seemed to be put in Newt Lee’s mouth, as well as that of Conley, to make them say or hint that Mr. Frank was suspected by them of committing the crime.

Calls It Persecution.

What negro, with dread of lynching or summary justice being meted out to him, would not swear to a lie, and put the crime on another if he could thereby escape the consequences of his crime? And even so late as Saturday the negro Conley admitted he wrote the notes found beside the murdered girl, as he said, at the suggestion of Mr. Frank.

Is it not inconceivable to think that an astute man, planning with finesse, to kill a little girl who might possibly call for her pay envelope the following day, would take into his confidence the sweeper Conley and have him write what he contemplated putting in a note he intended to lay before her mutilated body, when he shall have murdered her the next day, and exclaiming, “There is no reason why I should hang for it!”

Oh, no! Gentlemen, this is entirely too unlikely a thing for a man of his astuteness and caliber to have done or said. There has been some colossal blunder on the part of the city detectives in rounding up the quarry.

It looks very like persecuting this man simply because he is a Jew. I like to see fair play and justice. This is the first time a Jew has ever been in any serious trouble in Atlanta, and see how ready is every one to believe the worst of him.

In the first place, Mr. Frank, in his deposition, told the hour he reached his home for dinner and supper, was seen by a number of reputable people assembled at his home that evening. He had on the same business suit he had on at his office that day and which he wore at the Coroner’s inquest. If he had murdered the girl he must have had some scratches or blood marks on his person as it was said at the time Mary Phagan had struggled with her assailant.

Cites Weak Link.

One very weak link in the State’s chain of evidence is the fact that Newt Lee testified that he made a complete round of the building every half hour, yet he failed to notice the bloodstains on the floor of the metal room in making all those rounds, and then strangely went down the trap door to the basement at 3:30 on a flimsy excuse—flimsy, I say, because no one being there to prevent it, if he really wanted to go to the toilet he surely would have used the one on the upper floor in preference to going down the trap door at 3:30 to the basement closet, and in a dimly lighted place, in which he could scarcely see his hand before his face, and at an angle that the detectives at first said they could not see how he made the discovery of the body. He claimed to have made the find.

Another thing the detectives said was that blood was still flowing from the body when they first discovered it—rigor mortis had not taken place, two facts that in my mind are irrefutable proofs that that girl was not murdered at 12 m, at 4 or at 6 o’clock in the evening, which would have been the case if Mr. Frank had murdered the little girl any time between 12 m. and 6 p. m.

I do not know Mr. Frank, but that he is a Jew he holds my especial interest and esteem, for the Jews are good, law-abiding people.

Calls Frank Innocent.

He must be a leader among his people, as he is the president of the B’nai B[‘]rith Association of Atlanta. This society is the highest Jewish organization in the world, and you can not persuade me to believe that such a splendid lot of level headed men as the Jews of Atlanta would select a moral degenerate to head their organization.

I believe Mr. Frank innocent and confidently look for his complete vindication when tried by an impartial jury of his countrymen, when the mesh of lies shall have been swept away, that at present shroud the case. Meanwhile, all my sympathies are with him.

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Atlanta Georgian, May 28th 1913, “Woman Writes in Defense of Leo M. Frank,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)