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Testimony of Detective John Black

Detective John Black was a lead investigator on the Phagan murder case.

Examination by Hugh Dorsey

Dorsey:  “When you saw Frank the morning of April 27 did he seem nervous?”

Black:  “Yes.”

Dorsey:  “Why?”

Black:  “Because he had some considerable trouble putting on a collar.  It seemed that he couldn’t tie his necktie.”

Dorsey:  “What did he say about going to the factory?”

Black:  “He kept on insisting on getting a cup of coffee, and I finally told him that I had been up until one o’clock the night before and had then been aroused at four o’clock in the morning and hadn’t had any coffee or breakfast, either.  I told him we’d better go to the factory and get that over with.”


Dorsey:  “Did you see him go the [factory punch] clock?”

Black:  “Yes. He looked at it, made an examination, and said it had been punched correctly up until 2:30 A.M.”

Dorsey:  “Did Frank state at any time that the clock was inaccurate?”

Black:  “He said on Tuesday that the clock had been passed three times.”

Dorsey:  "Did Frank produce a time slip at that time?”

Black:  “Yes, a clip which he gave to Chief Lanford on Monday.”

Dorsey:  “What became of the slip he had on Sunday?”

Black:  “He carried it into his office on Sunday morning.”

Dorsey:  “Who was present Sunday morning when he stated the slip had been punched regularly?”

Black:  “Detective Starnes, Chief Lanford, Newt Lee, Boots Rogers and myself.”

Dorsey:  "When did you first hear Frank state the slip was incorrect?”

Black:  “I cannot swear. It was Tuesday or Monday, one or the other.”

Dorsey:  “Who was being held at that time under suspicion of the crime?”

Black:  “Newt Lee.”

Dorsey:  “Frank was not then under arrest?”

Black:  “No.”

Dorsey:  “Did you hear Hass make a statement in Frank’s presence?”

Black:  “Yes. Haas demanded of Chief Lanford that the officers accompany Mr. Frank out to his residence and search his residence.”

Dorsey:  “What were Haas grounds for making such a demand?”

Black:  He stated that he was Mr. Frank’s attorney and demanded to show that there was nothing left undone.”

Dorsey:  “What time was that?”

Black:  “About 11:30.

Cross-examination by Luther Rosser

Rosser: “You didn’t release Mr. Frank, until the word was given from the chief of detectives, did you?”

Black:  “I suppose not.”

Rosser:  “Do you mean anything by the word release?”

Black:  “I spoke before I thought when I uttered it.”

Rosser:  “Wasn’t his detainment equivalent to arrest?”

Black:  “I can’t say so.”  

Rosser:  “Then you retract a thing you said under oath?”

Black:  “Yes, I retract the word release....”

Rosser:  “Wasn’t it 10:00 before I got to the station?”

Black:  “No. . . you got there between 8:30 and 8:00.”

Rosser:  “Will you swear it?”

Black:  “I won’t swear it. .. I don’t know....”

Rosser:  “Who was present when you talked to Frank on the time previous to Sunday?”

Black:  “I don’t remember.”

Rosser:  “As a matter of fact, you can’t swear truthfully that you spoke to him at all, can you?”

Black:  “Not positively.”

Rosser:  “Hurry and scurry is an enemy to memory, isn’t it?”

Black:  “Yes.”

Rosser: “You went through the factory with Frank?”

Black:  “I don’t know—several people.”

Rosser:  “And none of you saw the sketch said to be blood?”

Black:  “No, sir.”

Rosser:  “How many of you went over the building?”

Black:  “I don’t know exactly.”

Rosser:  “Perhaps thirty people?”

Black:  “I don’t know.”

Rosser:  “This large horde made up of officers and curiosity seekers went over the factory and nobody saw these alleged blood spots?”

Black:  “No, sir.”

Rosser:  “How long was the factory/open on Sunday morning—till about 12:00, was it not?”

Black:  “I don’t know.”

Rosser:  “How many times did you go to the factory that morning?”

Black:  “Detective Starnes went over the factory with you, did he not?”

Rosser:  Campbell and Beaver, too?”

Black:  I don’t know about Beavers, but Chief Lanford did.”

Rosser: “And no blood spots were discovered that day?”

Black:  “Not so far as I know.”

Rosser:  “You saw Frank at the clock?”

Black: “Yes.”

Rosser:  “He opened the clock band took out a slip?”

Black:  “Yes.”

Rosser: “When did Frank turnover this slip that he took out of the clock?”

Black:  “I don’t know.”

Rosser:  “Didn’t you tell Mr. Dorsey a few minutes ago that he turned over the slip on Monday morning?”

Black:  “I don’t remember."

Rosser:  “Look here, Black. Is your memory so bad you can’t remember what you told Dorsey twenty or thirty minutes ago? And yet you attempt here to state the words of conversations that occurred more than three months ago?”

Black:  [No answer.]....

Rosser: “You also went to Lee’s house?”

Black:  “Yes.”

Rosser:  “What did you find?”

Black: “A bloody shirt.”

Rosser:  “Where is it?”

Black:  “Mr. Dorsey has it.”

Rosser:  “Is that the shirt, Mr. Black?”

Black: “Yes, sir.”

Rosser:  “What time did you find it?”

Black:  “Tuesday morning, about 9:00.”

Rosser:  "Don’t you know, Black, that as a matter of fact, that shirt was found before Frank ever said anything to you about the misses in that time tape?”

Black:  [No answer.]

Rosser: “Don’t you know it?” 

Black:  [No answer.]

Rosser: [To Judge:] “Give him time to answer, your honor.”

Black:  I don’t remember. I don’t like to admit it, but I am so crossed up and worried that I don’t know where I am at.”

Rosser: “Come down.”

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