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This Day in Georgia History

August 25, 1913

Leo Frank Trial Day 25, Last Day, Conviction

To view an image of Leo Frank, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

This marked the twenty-fifth, and final, day in the trial of Leo Frank. Prosecutor Hugh Dorsey ended his concluding argument, which had taken parts of three days. The defense then argued that Frank was the latest in a long line of Jews who were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Frank’s chief attorney again asserted that Jim Conley was the true murderer and that Conley - as well as many of the other prosecution witnesses - were shady characters. If the case came down to Leo Frank’s word against Jim Conley’s, then it was obvious who should be believed. Appealing to the jury, he noted that Leo Frank had been a pillar of the community with many well-respected people and employees testifying on his behalf. After hearing their instructions from Judge L.S. Roan, the jury retired to ponder the verdict. At 4:55 p.m., they returned and announced their decision - guilty of first degree murder! Neither Frank nor his family nor his lead attorneys were present in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Reportedly Judge Roan had feared mob violence should Frank have been acquitted. When told of the verdict, Frank re-asserted his complete innocence saying that the jury had been influenced by mob law. Likely, he was right on both counts. Although Leo Frank’s innocence can never be established with 100 percent certainty, based on what is now known about the case, the overwhelming consensus of expert opinion is that in a miscarriage of justice, a Fulton County jury convicted an innocent man of the death of Mary Phagan.