Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rafferty, Accused of Murder in Death of Tori Stafford, Won't Take the Stand: Murder Trial Won't Hear from Rafferty Himself

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rafferty, Accused of Murder in Death of Tori Stafford, Won't Take the Stand: Murder Trial Won't Hear from Rafferty Himself

Article excerpt

LONDON, Ont. - Testimony at the trial of the man accused in the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford wrapped up Tuesday as Michael Rafferty's lawyer tried to undermine the Crown's key witness, but stopped short of putting his client on the witness stand.

WARNING: Graphic details from this court case may disturb some readers.

Dirk Derstine opened and closed the defence's case with a single witness -- a woman who was one of the last people to see Tori alive on April 8, 2009 -- in hopes of casting doubt on the assertion that Tori had been abducted at random.

The grandmother, whose name cannot be published, picked up her grandchildren from Oliver Stephens Public School in Woodstock, Ont., that day, and said she saw a woman matching Terri-Lynne McClintic's description go into the school.

Later, she said, she saw the same woman walking away with Tori -- an image now hauntingly familiar to anyone who saw the grainy surveillance video that showed what police believed to be the little girl's abduction in process.

"(She) seemed like she was on a mission," the woman testified, describing the woman in the white coat as having a "stern" look on her face.

"The little girl that was with her was happy, skipping, talking a mile a minute...I assumed the person that she was talking to might have been her mother."

McClintic has admitted to being the woman in the surveillance video. Over six days in March, she told a horrifying story of a drug-addled couple plucking a young girl at random out of a bustling end-of-day crowd of schoolchildren, using her for the man's sexual pleasure, then McClintic killing her with inconceivable brutality.

McClintic testified that Rafferty, then her boyfriend, urged her to kidnap a young girl and dropped her off outside the school. She said she chose Tori because she spotted her outside the school all alone.

During his cross-examination of McClintic, Derstine put forward a very different scenario of what happened April 8.

Describing her as a troubled young woman with a thirst for violence, he accused McClintic of orchestrating the kidnapping over a drug debt, then offering the child sexually to her boyfriend.

When he rejected the offer, she killed the girl, with Rafferty nothing more than a horrified bystander, Derstine posited. …

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