Troy Davis, the MacPhails, and the U.S. Justice System

by Ifeoma Irobunda (orig. date 10/17/11)

In October 2011, thousands still mourn the now internationally felt execution of Troy Davis.

On August 19, 1989, Troy Davis was arrested for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail, who had stepped in to give aid to a man Davis was assaulting. According to seven eyewitnesses, Davis shot MacPhail in the head with a smirk on his face. Later on, two additional eyewitnesses stated that Davis had also confessed the murder to them. The gun with which Davis allegedly shot MacPhail was never found, but casings from the gun, matched to prior shootings, were found at the scene, and in August 1991, Davis was sentenced to death.

Davis’s case drew the attention of Amnesty International, the NAACP, and other national and international human rights groups over the next 20 years, and the doubt, outrage, and protest hat echoed from all corners of the world were enough that three previously scheduled execution dates were stayed, and in June 2010, an evidentiary hearing was held for Davis. Though seven of the original nine witnesses invalidated their testimonies, Davis was again found guilty, and a final execution date of September 21, 2011 was set. Throughout the proceedings, MacPhail’s family maintained that Davis was guilty, and that he deserved to die.

In the weeks leading up to the execution, one million people signed petitions for the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency, and a final appeal to the Supreme Court was made, but it was denied.

In the early morning hours of September 21st, protesters gathered outside of the White House and the Georgia penitentiary in which Davis was being held, carrying signs proclaiming slogans such as “Too Much Doubt—Let Him Out!” and “I Am Troy Davis.” At 11:08 p.m., after a four-hour delay during which the Supreme Court reviewed and denied a petition for his release, Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection. His execution came to the dismay of supporters worldwide, and to the quiet approval of the MacPhail family and their supporters, who felt that Davis’s execution was long overdue. Davis’s last words to the MacPhail family included a final declaration of his innocence, and he told them, “May God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.”

The world remains divided on Troy Davis. Some believe that the physical evidence, eyewitnesses, and circumstances surrounding the death of Mark MacPhail mean that Davis was rightfully executed, while others believe that on the night of September 21st, 2011, an innocent man was wrongfully put to death. Moreover, Davis’s execution calls into question the death penalty, the meaning of the phrase ‘‘reasonable doubt,’’ and the tactics and efficacy of the United States justice system.


Rumbling Rams Cross Country Season

by Evan Farrell (orig. date 9/25/11)

When people talk about cross country, they usually mock it by not even calling it a sport. They ask these athletes what is the point to running around in circles and why would anybody voluntarily sign up to do every other sport’s punishment. They know that the distance is long, the courses are repetitious and the pain is gruesome, but what they don’t know is the amount of commitment it requires to improve somebody’s time meet after meet. Although we lost many great runners over the past couple of years, this year’s group of stars may be the most competitive cross country team Clarkstown North has had in a long time.

The fresh blood North recently acquired this off-season have proven themselves to be great replacements. The team has done a phenomenal job to open the season. Daniel Diaz came in second place at the Suffern Invitational, first place at the Washingtonville Invitational and as we all know already, first place at the Spring Valley Duel Meet. Other runners have also had jaw-dropping times including: Marshad Huq with a time of 9:56 at Fred Gressler Invitational, Michael Herbstman with a time of 10:13 and Michael Dellicarri with a time of 10:54. All of these runners have all improved since the beginning, and the results speak for themselves since all these runners came in the top 15 at the last meet. On the girls’ side, Lauren Zolit is showing great promise after completing her first cross country race last Saturday.

On the guys’ side, the battle for varsity has never been so close. Literally, racers are seconds away from being displaced from a spot on varsity. Leading the pack is Captain (Overlord) Zach Rose who came in third place with an 18:08 time at Fred Gressler. After him are the jubilant juniors, Billy Barry and Max Hattem, who ran their first invitational with insane times of 17:24 and 18:11 at the Suffern Invitational respectively. Of course, how can I forget Kusal Desai who has crushed his times from last year making him one of the elite runners this year. After him, it’s an all-out frenzy for the coveted varsity spot. Alex Vignali shows great promise by coming in first place at the JV race at the Fred Gressler Meet with a time of 20:00.04, but Zach Kiel is hunting him down coming in second place at the same meet with a time of 20:14. The other runners to keep an eye on are veterans: Alex Linkoff with a time of 20:27, Mike Dolan with a time of 20:41, Marc Greenspan with a time of 21:15 and Ryan Kilgannon with a time of 21:30. To put it plain and simple, this year’s cross country team is STACKED!

The cross country team is exerting its dominance on the girls’ side as well. For the past couple of years, the girls’ team hasn’t had much to cheer about. In fact, last year, the team was fortunate just to finish on the team results sheet (requires a minimum of 5 varsity runners). This year, with the addition of Emily Betts and Zoe Maisel, the girls’ team placed in an invitational for the first time in a while. The always humble, always fast Emily Betts finished strong at Fred Gressler coming in third place with a time of 21:54 along with the outspoken star, Natalie Vilotjevic. Captain Shannon Kay also sprinted down the finish line for her last time at Fred Gressler to help her team achieve this second-place trophy. This milestone in North cross country history is a great way for the ground-breaking season to be remember, and the best part is that the season is not yet over.

So when people ask us why we run for the cross country team, the simple answer is that we run for the glory and sense of accomplishment that comes with winning a meet. Evidently, after months of practice, things that are worth fighting for don’t come easy. The resilience and perseverance of the North cross country team shows that we are force to be reckoned with.