Lee’s Attorney is Ready for Writ Fight
The Atlanta Georgian
Monday, July 7, 1913
Habeas Corpus Move to Free Negro in Phagan Case Due to Start Monday.
Habeas corpus proceedings in behalf of Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the National Pencil Factory, were promised Monday by the negro’s attorney, Bernard L. Chappell. Settlement of this phase of the Phagan murder mystery will determine definitely the status of the negro.
It is known that the State regards Lee as a material witness in building up its case against Frank. The attitude of Mr. Chappell is that his client knows no more about [the] crime than he already has told, and should therefore be freed. Lee has told the detectives nothing which links any man directly with the crime. By the defense, his story is held to point to the guilt of Leo Frank no more than to the guilt of Conley.
The State, however, will fight any effort to give the negro his liberty. Solicitor Dorsey fears that Lee will get out of the jurisdiction of the court once he is permitted his freedom.
The battle over Lee is the only outward sign of activity in the Phagan case etiher [sic] by the defense or the prosecution, but it is known that the defense is busily engaged completing its case. One new witness was interviewed Saturday by Frank’s lawyers, and his affidavit taken before a notary public. A strong net is being woven about Conley. The nature of the testimony is being kept secret, but it is known that the defense expects to free Frank by showing that it was Conley who committed the crime. The negro is said to be enmeshed in the testimony in the hands of the defense.
Despite rumors of another postponement, attorneys for the defense and prosecution said Monday that they would be ready to go ahead with the case at the time set for trial, July 28, and that they knew of no reason for further delay.
Jury to Consider Indicting Conley.
What was considered a direct reference to the Phagan case was made in the charge of Superior Judge George L. Bell to the Grand Jury Monday morning. He said he wanted to place particular emphasis on recent “horrible homicides” and urged the jury to probe deep in an effort to find clews that would lead to perpetrators.
The Grand Jury was organized at 9 o’clock Monday morning with W. D. Beattie foreman. Judge Bell made one of the shortest charges ever delivered in a Fulton County courtroom.
Immediately following the charge the jury went into executive session to consider bills presented by the Solicitor’s office. After to-day’s session the calendar of criminal business will be disposed of, and the jury will have every opportunity to take up any matters it might see fit.
A meeting will be called later in the week when a definite plan of action will be outlined for the term. It was regarded as likely that the Phagan case would be reopened and an indictment against Jim Conley considered.
Other matters that might be taken up are recent developments with the police department, in which eight patrolmen were suspended for alleged corruption, the counter charges of corruption made by them and charges of open vice.