American State Trials Volume 10 (1918) by John D. Lawson, LL.D.
Beginning on page 182, an interpretation of the Leo M. Frank case by John D. Lawson is featured and then it is followed by an abridged version of the 1913 Leo Frank trial testimony (July 28, 1913 to August 26, 1913) for the murder of little Mary Phagan on April 26th 1913 (If you would like to read the unabridged version of the Leo Frank trial testimony, visit: www.LeoFrank.org or download the more complete 1913 Brief of Evidence from www.Archive.org).
After the extensively trimmed Leo Frank trial testimony, the elusive closing arguments of State’s Prosecution Lawyers Hugh M. Dorsey and Mr. Frank Arthur Hooper, and Leo Frank Defense Team Attorneys Reuben Rose Arnold and Luther Zeigler Rosser are featured and a very interesting read (required reading).
The chronology of post trial conviction appeals (August 27, 1913 to Spring of 1915) is highlighted with some commentary, however if you want to read all that was left out, you will need download the original primary source legal documents and the response of Hugh M. Dorsey from the legal archive on www.LeoFrank.org. (see GA Supreme Court Case File on Leo Frank)
The major pivotal event was the controversial commutation of Leo Frank’s death sentence to life in prison on June 21, 1915 by the outgoing and corrupt Governor John M. Slaton who was a senior law partner and part owner of the law firm representing Leo Frank at his 1913 murder trial. The July 17, 1915 prison “shanking” of Leo Frank with a seven inch butcher knife by a fellow inmate is brushed over and then finally a very detailed account of the events leading up to the abduction of Leo Frank from prison on the evening of August 16, 1915 and his lynching the morning of August 17, 1915.
What makes this nationally followed and sensational murder trial so unlikely, is it would be the first time in U.S. history, in a Black-White racially segregated South, the testimony of two African-Americans, Jim Conley and Newt Lee, would become an important and integral part of the collective testimony and evidence presented to an all white Jury, which would help successfully convict a White man (Leo Frank) on August 25th 1913. And though African-American Minola McKnight would deny her June 3rd 1913 affidavit, State’s Exhibit J, the denial would not be believed when all things were considered and thus Minola Mcknight would become the 3rd African-American whose evidence would help build the case against Leo Frank.
Though, ultimately the most important witness testimony at the trial did not come from Jim Conley and Newt Lee, but from a Goldilocks 14 year old White girl named Monteen Stover, she broke Leo Frank’s alibi wide open that he [Leo Frank] was in his second floor office every minute from noon to 12:35. Leo Frank told police officers and detectives that he was in his second floor office every single minute from noon to 12:35.
To compound matters Leo Frank sworn under oath told the Coroners Inquest Jury he did not use the bathroom at all on April 26, 1913, leaving the Coroners and his Jury of six men incredulous as would be expected.
Monteen Stover Character Witness
What made matters ironic is Monteen Stover tended to be a character defense witness for Leo Frank against numerous allegations from former employees of the closed-down pencil factory. More than a bakers dozen of pre-teen and teenage child laborers testified Leo Frank had unmistakeable lascivious, pedophile and sexual predatory tendencies.
Leo Frank was not in his office from 12:05 to 12:10
Monteen Stover testified to Leo Frank not being in either his inner or outer second floor office between 12:05 and 12:10 on April 26th 1913. Monteen Stover said when she had arrived, she looked around for Leo Frank and waited in his second floor office for 5 minutes, because she wanted to collect her weekly pay that was due to her (No one ever disputed this fact at the trial or appeals, not even the defense lawyers). When Monteen couldn’t find Leo Frank, she then looked down the hall from Leo Frank’s second floor office, directly at the door to the metal room, describing it as being closed shut and she thought the factory was deserted. Leo Frank was presumably on the other side of that door strangling the throat of Mary Phagan.
The Leo Frank Virtual Murder Confession
It was on August 18th 1913, Leo Frank mounted the witness stand at his trial and would counter the testimony given by Monteen Stover (about Leo Frank not being in his office from 12:05 to 12:10), with a most shocking, mind bogging blunder, an admission inescapably damaging. Leo Frank testified he may have “unconsciously” gone to the bathroom to use the toilet or to urinate during this lapse of unaccountable time (12:05 to 12:10) revealed by Monteen Stover. This testimony was so grossly incriminating because in order to get to the bathroom, one has to physically walk into and through the second floor metal room where the bathroom is located. Frank’s statement about his “unconscious” bathroom visit amounted to a virtual murder confession. State’s Prosecution Attorneys Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and Frank Arthur Hooper would articulate the virtual murder confession in their closing arguments. It was the first time in U.S. history that the prime suspect made a virtual confession at their own capital murder trial.
The State’s prosecution team led by Hugh Dorsey spent nearly a month (29 days) in total, during the longest criminal trial in Southern history, building it’s entire case and successfully convincing the Judge and Jury, that Leo M. Frank murdered Mary Phagan in the second floor metal room between 12:05 and 12:10 on Confederate Memorial Day, April 26th 1913.
The trial was a total shutout and victory for the prosecution and with less than 4 hours of deliberation, the Jury had arrived at it’s unanimous decision of guilty without a recommendation of mercy (they unanimously voted for the execution of Leo Frank by hanging).
After two embarrassing years of failed appeals at the State and Federal Court Systems, Leo Frank had one last hope, and appealed to the corrupt Governor of Georgia who was part owner of the firm who represented him at the murder trial.
When Georgian Governor John M. Slaton, a legal partner and part owner of the law firm hired by Leo Frank to represent him at the trial, commuted Leo Franks death sentence to life in prison on June 21st 1915, there was public outrage at the perceived gross conflict of interest that had disqualified John M. Slaton from being legitimately qualified to make a decision to give Leo Frank clemency against the Judge, trial Jury and two years of appeals at every level of the United States Legal System.
Southerners raged indignantly, because the Governor John M. Slaton had commuted the death sentence of his own law firm client Leo Frank. What made matters hard to swallow is Governor John Slaton completely disregarded the sworn trial testimony of Newt Lee, Harry Scott, Monteen Stover, Jim Conley, Leo Frank and ultimately dishonored the entire U.S. legal system which in majority decisions said Leo Frank had a fair trial.
Immediately after the commutation of Leo Frank, a demonstration of 1,200 people marched on John M. Slaton’s home, and had the armed national guard not been called in to disperse the crowd, their was fear John Slaton would have been lynched and the inside of his mansion torched to the ground.
Leo Frank was secretly whisked away to Milledgeville, Georgia, a minimum security work farm nearly 200 miles from Atlanta.
On July 17, 1915, an inmate shanked Leo Frank, slashing his throat with a 7 inch butcher knife. Leo Frank barely survived and his wounds were slow to heal in the hot Georgia summer, and one month later Leo Frank would meet his ultimate demise “Southern Style”.
A well organized lynch party came together in critical mass immediately after the Leo Frank commutation of June 21, 1915, it was a group that called itself “The Knights of Mary Phagan”, formed by the elite “good ole boys”, Georgia’s most prominent members of society and the upper crust of Marietta citizenry.
Nearly two months after the commutation, the lynch party launched one of the most audacious prison breaks in US history, in an unprecedented Navy Seal commando style raid, they seized and abducted Leo Frank from the Milledgeville prison on August 16, 1915 at 11PM, without a single shot fired.
The lynch party of several dozen men drove Leo Frank 175 miles all through the night in a tail gating party style conga line of slow rolling model-T fords at approximately 18 miles an hour. The caravan of lynch party members delivered Leo Frank to the final destination at Frey’s Gin, the preplanned place Leo Frank was to be hanged, it was a location in the close relative vicinity of where Mary had once lived and was buried.
A 3/4″ manila rope was prepped into a hang mans noose, it was thrown over a sturdy oak tree branch the thickness of a mans thy and the loop was placed snugly around Leo Frank’s neck like a thread through the head of a needle. Leo Frank was carefully hoisted onto a small table by 4 men, 2 on either side of him to hold him steady. With the noose securely snug around Leo Frank’s neck the other end of the rope was tied off to a nearby tree, the sentence of the Jury was read by a former Judge and the table was kicked away.
Leo Frank was properly lynched on the morning of August 17th, 1915 at 7:17AM for the bludgeon, rape and strangulation of 13 year old Mary Anne Phagan (1899 to 1913).
Because Leo Frank was president of the elite Jewish Fraternal organization B’nai B’rith, his conviction became part of the impetus for the creation of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith in October 1913.
For more information about Leo M. Frank, visit: www.LeoFrank.org
<<===== You can download the adobe PDF of this book on the left hand side of this page, by right mouse clicking on the PDF link and selecting 'save as'. Please write a review of this book below. More excellent books and reading on the subject include: 0. The Leo Frank Case (Mary Phagan) Inside Story of Georgia’s Greatest Murder Mystery 1913 – The first neutral book written on the subject. Very interesting read.
1. The Murder of Little Mary Phagan by Mary Phagan Kean (Available here on www.Archive.org). Written by Mary Phagan Kean, the great grand niece of Mary Phagan. A neutral account of the events surrounding the trial of Leo Frank. The Murder of Little Mary Phagan is well worth reading and it is a refreshing change from the endless number of Jewish and contemporary books turning the Leo Frank case into a neurotic race obsessed tabloid controversy.
2. American State Trials, volume X (1918) by John Lawson (Available here on www.Archive.org and LeoFrank.org) Tends to be biased in favor of Leo Frank and his legal defense team, this document provides an abridged version of the Brief of Evidence, leaving out some important things said and details when it republishes parts of the trial testimony. Be sure to read the closing arguments of Luther Zeigler Rosser, Reuben Rose Arnold, Frank Arthur Hooper and Hugh Manson Dorsey. For a more complete version of the Leo M. Frank trial testimony, read the 1913 murder trial brief of evidence found on www.LeoFrank.org and you can see what was left out.
3. Argument of Hugh M. Dorsey in the Trial of Leo Frank (Available here on www.archive.org and www.LeoFrank.org). Some but not all of the 9 hours of arguments given to the Jury at the end of the Leo Frank trial. Only 18 Libraries in the world have copies of this books. It can be found here on archive.org thanks to leofrank.org. This is an excellent book and required reading to see how Dorsey in sales vernacular ‘closed’ a Jury of 12 men and Judge Roan.
4. Leo M. Frank, Plaintiff in Error, vs. State of Georgia, Defendant in Error. In Error from Fulton Superior Court at the July Term 1913, Brief of Evidence. Extremely rare, only 1 copy exists, and it is at the Georgia State Archive. This document is available now on LeoFrank.org.
5., 6., 7., The Atlanta Constitution, The Atlanta Journal, The Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Tabloid Yellow Journalism), April 28th to August 27th 1913.
8. Tom Watson’s Jeffersonian and Watson’s Magazine: Watson’s Magazine, January 1915, Watson’s Magazine, March 1915; Watson’s Magazine, August 1915, Watson’s Magazine, September 1915, and Watson’s Magazine, October of 1915. (Available here on www.Archive.org and LeoFrank.org). Tom Watson’s best work on the Leo M. Frank case was published in September 1915. Watson’s five works written collectively on the Leo M. Frank topic, provide logical arguments confirming the guilt of Leo M. Frank with superb reasoning.
These five works are absolutely required reading for anyone interested in the Leo M. Frank Case. Tom Watson’s magazine publications surged from 30,000 to 100,000 copies, when it was announced he would be writing on the Leo Frank case. These magazines are extremely rare and very difficult to find. However they have been scanned and are available on both www.Archive.org and www.leofrank.org
1. The Leo Frank Case By Tom Watson (January 1915) Watson’s Magazine Volume 20 No. 3. See page 139 for the Leo Frank Case. Jeffersonian Publishing Company, Thomson, Ga., Digital Source Archive.org
2. The Full Review of the Leo Frank Case By Tom Watson (March 1915) Volume 20. No. 5. See page 235 for ‘A Full Review of the Leo Frank Case’. Jeffersonian Publishing Company, Thomson, Ga., Digital Source Archive.org
3. The Celebrated Case of The State of Georgia vs. Leo Frank By Tom Watson (August 1915) Volumne 21, No 4. See page 182 for ‘The Celebrated Case of the State of Georgia vs. Leo Frank”. Jeffersonian Publishing Company, Thomson, Ga., Digital Source Archive.org
4. The Official Record in the Case of Leo Frank, Jew Pervert By Tom Watson (September 1915) Volume 21. No. 5. See page 251 for ‘The Official Record in the Case of Leo Frank, Jew Pervert’. Jeffersonian Publishing Company, Thomson, Ga., Digital Source Archive.org
5. The Rich Jews Indict a State! The Whole South Traduced in the Matter of Leo Frank By Tom Watson (October 1915) Volume 21. No. 6. See page 301. Jeffersonian Publishing Company, Thomson, Ga., Digital Source Archive.org
Though Tom Watson is considered a controversial figure by some, when one puts the rhetoric aside, his writings on the Leo Frank case are lucid, making a very complicated trial easy to understand.
The most comprehensive research archive of Leo M. Frank Case information and documents, visit: www.LeoFrank.org