Negro’s Affidavit Not Given Much Credence

by Archivist on November 22, 2016

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Even the City Detectives, It Is Said, Attach Very Little Importance to Document

Very little importance, it is said, is attached by the city detectives to the sensational and incoherent affidavit of Minola McKnight, the negro cook at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, 68 East Georgia avenue, where Leo M. Frank, the pencil factory superintendent, and his wife reside.

Attorney Luther Rosser, chief counsel for the indicted superintendent, read the affidavit with apparent amusement. He had no comment to make, but it was evident that Mr. Rosser did not regard the affidavit seriously.

Mr. and Mrs. Selig and Mrs. Frank read the affidavit in The Journal, and although they would make no statement for publication, they appeared to view the negro woman’s testimony as absurd and ridiculous on the face of it.

But little of the cook’s testimony, even should she stick to her story until the day of the trial, will be admissible in court. It is largely alleged hearsay evidence and, therefore, barred.

The woman, in her affidavit, swears that Frank came home to lunch on the Saturday of the Mary Phagan murder, about 1:30; that he did not eat anything and that he remained only about ten minutes. If the negress knows of her own knowledge that this is true she can so testify in court. However, Mr. Selig, Frank’s father-in-law, will swear as he did before the coroner’s inquest, that Frank ate lunch with him and afterwards lay down on a lounge for a nap. Mrs. Selig will reiterate her testimony at the inquest, which was to the effect that Frank came home about 1:30 o’clock and that she and her daughter, Mrs. Frank, were dressed and ready to go to a grand opera matinee; that soon after his arrival they left.

The McKnight woman, in her affidavit, declares that some time on Sunday she overheard Mrs. Frank tell her mother, Mrs. Selig, that Frank came home drunk the night before, that he was very restless and acted queerly; that he told her (Mrs. Frank) that he was in trouble and begged her to get his pistol in order that he might kill himself.

This portion of the woman’s testimony, even if true, would be hearsay and not admissible.

Friends of the indicted superintendent are inclined to make light of the cook’s affidavit. They call attention to the fact, as brought out at the coroner’s inquest, that eigth [sic] or ten friends of the Selig family were at the Selig home on the Saturday night in question, and that it will be easy to prove by them whether Frank was drunk or acting queerly. It is also recalled that the evidence before the coroner was that on that Saturday evening Frank sat out in the hall of the Selig residence and read a magazine for about two or three hours before retiring.

And the point is made that if Frank had been acting so strangely during the night Mrs. Frank would hardly have waited until some time next day to confide in her mother, but that she would most likely have called in both her mother and father at the time, for they were sleeping in an adjacent room.

Detective Chief Lanford stated Thursday morning that he did not expect any developments in the Phagan case during the day as both he and Police Chief Beavers would be before the grand jury during the greater portion of Thursday.

According to the detective chief, James Conley, the negro sweeper, has made no further admissions. He still holds to the story contained in his third affidavit in which he declares he assisted Frank to carry the Phagan girl’s body to the pencil factory basement and wrote the notes found beside the body at the dictation of the factory superintendent. No effort has been made during the past few days to obtain additional disclosures from Conley.

MRS. FRANK HERE.

Frank’s mother, who arrived in Atlanta ten or twelve days ago, is said to have visited her son’s cell in the tower several times during last week. Usually, it is reported, she goes in the evening to avoid the gaze of the curious.

Mrs. Frank has been stopping at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, and is said to have exhibited wonderful bravery in sharing her son’s burden.

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Atlanta Journal, June 5th 1913, “Negro’s Affidavit Not Given Much Credence,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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