THIS WEEK’S audio book presentation on the 1913 Leo Frank case is the third (of six) parts of prosecutor Hugh Dorsey’s closing arguments. His arguments, along with the evidence in this case, were ultimately successful — and Jewish pencil factory superintendent Leo Frank (pictured) was convicted of murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan, his sweatshop employee.
Frank was the president of the Atlanta, Georgia B’nai B’rith and the Frank case was a major factor in the establishment of the Jewish “anti-hate” group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), over 100 years ago.
This new audio book series encompasses the American Mercury’s extensive coverage of the 1913 Frank trial. We are presenting the extensive arguments, both for the defense and the prosecution, in order and in full — a monumental, book-length project. Today’s presentation is the second section (of six) of Hugh Dorsey’s final statement.
Click on the “play” button to listen to the audio book, read by Vanessa Neubauer.
Mr. Dorsey dismisses the defense’s contention that the blood stains found were not Mary Phagan’s blood:
[A]nd never was such a farce enacted in the courthouse as this effort on the part of able counsel to make it appear that that wasn’t blood up there on that floor. Absurd! Not satisfied with the absurdity of the contention that it’s paint, that it’s cat blood, rat’s blood, varnish, they bring in this fellow Lee, who perjures himself to say that that man stood there just letting the blood drip. Old man Starnes tells you that they saw the blood there and chipped it up, and saw the blood right along on the route towards the elevator; Jim Conley tells you that right there is where he dropped the head so hard, and where Frank came and took hold and caught the feet. Every person that described that blood and its appearance bears it out that it was caused by dropping, because it was spattered,—one big spot here and other little ones around it,—and if human testimony is to be believed, you know that was blood—that that was blood and not paint, you know that it was the blood of Mary Phagan and not the blood of Duffy. Duffy says so. You know that it was the blood of Mary Phagan because it corresponds with the manner in which Jim Conley says he dropped the body. You know it’s blood because Chief Beavers saw blood there. It spattered towards the dressing room; you know it was blood because Starnes says he saw it was blood and he saw that the haskoline had been put over it. . .
Mr. Dorsey also describes the vast difference between the legitimate evidence in the case and the planted evidence designed to implicate two innocent Black men in the crime — night watchman Newt Lee and facory sweeper Jim Conley: the bloody shirt found at Newt Lee’s residence and the planted fake envelope, bloody club, and blood stains found (more than two weeks later!), near the scuttle hole near which Jim Conley was sitting on that fatal day, by a Pinkerton detective (later fired for questionable practices) named McWorth:
Now, Harry Scott didn’t manipulate exactly right, so they got them some new Richmonds and put them in the field, and this fellow Pierce,—and where is Pierce? Echo answers where? And where, oh, where, is Whitfield? And echo answers where? The only man you bring in here is this man McWorth. Starnes denies, Black denies, Scott denies, every witness put on the stand denies, that around that scuttle hole anything was seen immediately after that murder.
Don’t you know that Frank, who went through that factory,—that Schiff, Darley, Holloway, don’t you know that they would have been only too glad to have reported to Frank that blood spots had been found around that scuttle hole, and don’t you know that Frank would have rushed to get his detective Scott to put the police in charge of the information that blood had been found here! But long after Jim Conley had been arrested, after this man Holloway had arrested him, after this man Holloway had said that Jim was “his nigger,” realizing the desperation of the situation, realizing that something had to be forthcoming to bolster up the charge that Conley did it, then it was and not until then that this man McWorth, after he had gone looking through the factory for a whole day, at about 3 :30 o’clock saw seven large stains, found the envelope and stick right there in the corner.
Now, he found too much, didn’t he! Wasn’t that a little too much! Is there a man on this jury that believes that all these officers looking as they did there, through that factory, going down in this basement there through that very scuttle hole, would have overlooked seven large stains which were not found there until May 15th? Scott said “I looked there just after the murder, made search at the scuttle hole, didn’t see blood spots there.” Starnes says the same, Rosser says the same, and these men Mel Stanford and Darley both say they had been cleaning up all that very area May 3rd, and yet the men who cleaned up and all these men never saw them and never even found the envelope or the stick. Why it’s just in keeping with that plant of the shirt at Newt Lee’s house.
I don’t care how much you mix up this man Black. Boots Rogers says, Darley says, that Sunday morning, when suspicion pointed towards this man Newt Lee, that this man Frank, the brilliant Cornell graduate and the man who was so capable at making figures that certain parts of his work have never been fixed since he left that factory, when he knew a girl had been murdered downstairs, when he knew that suspicion pointed towards Newt Lee, took that slip out of the clock and stood there, looked at it, told those men, in answer to a question, if Newt Lee would have had time to have left and gone home after he killed that girl and changed his clothing, that old Newt didn’t have the time. Why did he say it then? Because he knew that Lanford and Black and the other detectives who were there would have examined that slip for themselves, then and there, and would have seen that these punches were regular or irregular. But he stood there, and because he knew he would be detected if he tried to palm off a fraud at that time and place, this man of keen perception, this man who is quick at figures, this Cornell graduate of high standing, looked over those figures which register the punches for simply twelve hours,—not quite twelve hours,—in that presence, surrounded by those men, told them that Newt Lee wouldn’t have had the time, but, ah! Monday afternoon, when he sees that there isn’t enough evidence against Newt Lee, and that the thing ain’t working quite as nicely against this man Gantt, who he told was familiar with this little girl, Mary Phagan, and then he suddenly proposes, after a conference with his astute counsel, Mr. Haas, that “you go out to my house and make a search,” and then, in the same breath and at the same time, he shrewdly and adroitly suggests to Black that Newt Lee, he has suddenly discovered, had time to go out to his house, and forthwith, early Tuesday morning, John Black, not having been there before because Leo M. Frank told him that Newt Lee didn’t have time to go out to his house, but after the information comes in then Tuesday morning, John Black puts out and goes to old Newt’s house and finds a shirt; that’s a plant as sure as the envelope is a plant, as the stick is a plant, as the spots around the scuttle hole. And the man that did his job, did it too well; he gets a shirt that has the odor of blood, but one that has none of the scent of the negro Newt Lee in the armpit. He puts it, not on one side, as any man moving a body would necessarily have done, but he smears it on both sides, and this carries with it, as you as honest men must know, unmistakable evidence of the fact that somebody planted that shirt sometime Monday, at whose instance and suggestion we don’t know.
And that club business: Doctor Harris says that that wound could not have been done with that club, and Doctor Hurt says it could not have been done with that club, and not a doctor of all the numerous doctors, good men and good doctors as they are for some purposes, ever denies it. A physical examination of that shirt shows you that it wasn’t on the person when that blood got on it,—there is as much blood on the inside or the under side that didn’t come through to the outside. Lee didn’t deny the shirt, but he never did say that it was his shirt. Cornered up as he was, not a negro, one negro in a thousand, that wouldn’t have denied the ownership of that shirt, but old Lee was too honest to say that it wasn’t his shirt,—he didn’t remember it; and you don’t know whether it was his or not. Now this envelope and this stick is found at the radiator, at the scuttle hole, May 15th, after the place had been cleaned up, according to Darley and other witnesses, including Mel Stanford, and after, as I said, it had been thoroughly searched by Scott, Campbell, Rosser, Starnes and I don’t know how many others; and then you say that these things weren’t a part and parcel of the same scheme that caused this man to have Conley write those notes planted by the body to draw attention away from him.
Here is a description of the full series which will be posted as audio in future weeks; once all segments have been released, the Mercury will be offering for sale a complete, downloadable audio book of the full series.
2. WEEK 1
3. WEEK 2
4. WEEK 3
5. Leo Frank mounts the witness stand by Ann Hendon
6. Week 4
7. Closing arguments of Rosser, Arnold and Hooper
8. Closing arguments of Hugh Dorsey
Be sure to look for next week’s installment here at The American Mercury as we continue to follow the trial that changed the South — changed America — and changed the world.