A growing chorus of community leaders is urging the state of Georgia to pardon Leo Frank.
Frank, the Jewish superintendent of National Pencil Co., was convicted of murdering an employee, 13-year-old Mary Phagan, on April 26, 1913. Frank was convicted following a controversial and highly sensationalized trial and originally sentenced to death.
Georgia Gov. John M. Slaton believed Frank might be innocent and subsequently commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison. But, a mob from Marietta calling themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan kidnapped Frank from a state prison in Milledgeville, Ga., and lynched him at Frey’s Gin in Marietta on Aug. 17, 1915.
“His conviction should be set aside and he should be given a full pardon,” The Atlanta-Journal Constitution quoted former Gov. Roy Barnes as saying. “I don’t think there’s any question in my mind there’s reasonable doubt, and I think he should be exonerated.”
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles in 1986 pardoned Frank, but the agency did not claim Frank was innocent. The board granted the pardon “without attempting to address the question of guilt or innocence, and in recognition of the State’s failure to protect the person of Leo M. Frank.”