5 to Testify Frank Was at Home at Hour Negro Says He Aided

by Archivist on October 12, 2016

5-to-testify

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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

Defense to Cite Discrepancies in Time to Disprove Conley’s Affidavit—Sheriff Denies Friends of Superintendent Approached Sweeper in Cell.

After a two-hour grilling by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey Minola McKnight, a negro woman about 21 years old, was taken to police headquarters and is held under suspicion in connection with the murder of Mary Phagan.

She is believed to have made sensational disclosures to the solicitor.

At the police station she was in hysteria, shouting:

“I am going to hang, but I didn’t do it.”

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Five persons will be prepared to testify at the trial of Leo M. Frank that he arrived at home for luncheon at 1:20 o’clock the Saturday afternoon that Mary Phagan was killed, which would have been an impossibility, the defense will assert, if Frank had directed the disposal of the body and dictated the notes at the time the negro alleges.

Testimony before the Coroner’s jury by Frank and others indicated strongly that he was at home by 1:20 the afternoon of the crime.  Conley in his affidavits declared that he went into Frank’s office at four minutes before 1 o’clock. He said that after a conversation of a few minutes Frank heard voices and shoved Conley into a closet. Miss Corinthia Hall and Mrs. Emma Clark entered. Conley was kept a prisoner in the closet, he said, for eight or ten minutes.

It was after this, he said, that Frank asked him if he could write. Conley swore in his affidavit that he answered in the affirmative, and that he was directed to write several notes, most of which began: “Dear mother, a long tall black negro did this by hisself.”

After this, followed the giving of $2.50 to the negro, according to his story, as well as the giving of the $200 which later was taken back by Frank.

All of the incidents that the negro has detailed, in the minds of many interested in the case, would have kept Frank at the factory considerably after the time that five witnesses will swear he arrived home.

Wife and Her Parents to Aid.

These witnesses are Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, Mrs. Frank, the cook in the Selig household and an acquaintance of Frank who is said to have seen him riding home in the street car.

Adding doubt to the negro’s affidavit is the testimony of Miss Corinthia Hall before the Coroner’s jury, Miss Hall testified that she left the building about 11:45 Saturday forenoon. Conley described her as coming to Frank’s office more than an hour later.

Sheriff Mangum made indignant and emphatic denial Monday of the reports that Conley had been approached, threatened or intimidated while he was in a cell at the Tower.

Conley, he said, was not threatened in any way. He was not approached by friends of Leo Frank and no one was permitted to see Conley whom the negro did not wish to see.

“There is not a bit of truth in the statements that have been made to the effect that Frank’s friends were allowed to get to Conley and make attempts to frighten him into a confession,” said the Sheriff. “It was reported that a group of Frank’s friends, with a bottle of liquor, went to Conley’s cell. This is absolutely a fabrication.”

Treats All Prisoners Alike.

“Frank is no more to me than Conley, so far as the law is concerned. The law tells me to protect all my prisoners without fear or favor. This I have done, and this I shall continue to do. Conley was treated exactly as Frank has been, or as anyone else awaiting trial or the action of the Grand Jury.

“If anyone came to see him, he was asked first if he wished to see that person or persons. If he said he did not, his wishes were regarded to the letter.

“The report that I am seeking the Jewish support and the Jewish vote or any other class or race or nationality, as against another, is most absurd upon the face of it.

“I have nothing to say against Chief Lanford. I would only suggest that he try his case in the court and not attempt to settle the whole case and hang one man or another before the twelve men the law prescribes have had a chance to pass on the prisoner’s guilty or innocence.”

Conley made a personal request of Chief of Detectives Lanford Monday morning to be taken to confront the factory superintendent.

“I think I could make him tell everything if I could just go there to his cell and tell my story again,” said the negro. Conley repeatedly urged upon Chief Lanford that he be allowed to face Frank. He declared he thought his presence would break Frank down.

The Chief regarded Conley as sincere in his request, but said that he would make no further effort to bring the negro and the factory superintendent together. All rested in the hands of Luther Z. Rosser, Frank’s attorney, Lanford announced.

“I have made several attempts to take Conley to Frank’s cell since the negro began making his disclosures,” explained Chief Lanford. “All efforts have been unavailing. Frank steadfastly has refused to talk with the detectives or with anyone whom the detectives may bring to see him. Attorney Rosser may arrange for a meeting of this sort, but the detective department has given it up.

Conley Not To Be Indicted Now.

“If Rosser is confident that Frank is innocent, he may think it will help his client’s case to give him a chance to see the negro and deny his tale.”

Chief Lanford said that there would be no bar to Conley’s testimony at the trial of Frank. Conley, he said, would not be indicted as an accessory after the fact at the present time, but more likely would be indicted after Frank’s fate was determined in one way or another. In the meantime he will be held as a material witness like Newt Lee, the negro night watchman at the factory.

[Prisoner Can Shield Himself

Sheriff Mangum, in replying to Lanford’s attack of his attitude in preventing detectives from confronting Frank with his accuser, declared Monday morning the power to do this is not discretionary.

“If Lanford knew anything about the law,” said the Sheriff, “he would know that the law allows the prisoner in the county jail to say whom he will see and whom he will not see. If Frank does not want to see the negro, he doesn’t have to. If a prisoner asks a jailer to keep everyone out except his friends, his request is granted. That was the case when Mrs. Appelbaum was in jail, and all others as well.

“I don’t see why Lanford doesn’t try the Phagan case in court. He says he has the evidence to convict Frank. Why doesn’t he take it into court instead of trying to bring the matter into the jail?”– added from the “afternoon edition” of the Georgian — Ed.]

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Atlanta Georgian, June 2nd 1913, “5 to Testify Frank Was at Home at Hour Negro Says He Aided,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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