In 1915, an unjust tragedy occurred. Leo M. Frank was lynched because he was thought to be guilty for the murder of 14-year-old Mary Phagan. However, was he actually guilty of the crime he was convicted for? More or less, Leo Frank was a victim of press influencing public opinion, the need for Hugh Dorsey (the prosecutor) to have a successful case, and racial prejudice of the time. Contrary to public opinion, Leo Frank was not guilty for murdering Mary Phagan.
Overview of the case
Reasons for conviction
When the public heard of the crime, the police perilously needed someone to blame. If a slayer of the 14-year old Mary Phagan were not found soon, public uproar would become uncontrollable. The public needed a victim to blame for the murder of a young white girl. Conditions in Atlanta were favorable for an outburst against the killer of an innocent soul, especially if the accused murder was non-Anglo- Saxon.
These are not the only reasons for urgency to find a killer; the Solicitor General of Atlanta’s circuit, Hugh M. Dorsey, desperately needed a successful conviction because he had recently failed to convict two accused murderers. He was concerned about putting together a case that would hold up in court; no matter what lengths he had to go to in order to accomplish this. Overtime, it became obvious that Dorsey did not necessarily believe that Frank was guilty, but recognized that the political values of his position were uncertain.
Because the opinions and activities of the police helped control public reaction, Leo Frank was almost immediately the victim of public clamor. The fact that he was Jewish generated both public and legal controversy. Press spread unstoppable rumors of Frank being a sexual pervert, having another wife living in Brooklyn, that his office was pasted with obscene pictures and that he had made advances to Phagan multiple times before the murder took place. Leaders of the state either refused to work against the mob spirit or joined in with the demand for Frank being guilty.
Although Leo Frank had lived in Atlanta for nearly 5 years, he often expressed his incongruous feelings of the Southern society. After it was suggested that Leo Frank was a suspect, the mob atmosphere of Georgia began to demand the blood of a Jew. Although he was believed to be guilty at the time, much evidence has surfaced that could prove this otherwise.
Evidence was not analyzed
Once the public believed that Frank was the killer, there was no turning back. The police and court had to make sure the evidence lined up to prove him guilty in order to prevent public uproar. For example, bloody fingerprints were found on the victim's jacket, but there is no indication that they were ever analyzed. Also, a trail in the dirt along which police believed Phagan had been dragged was trampled and no footprints were ever identified. The police feared that if this evidence did not line up against Frank, it...