Michael Rafferty Tried For Tori Stafford Murder: Jury Hears 'Graphic And Disturbing' Evidence

Michael Rafferty Tori Stafford

First Posted: 03/ 5/2012 4:00 am Updated: 03/ 8/2012 2:42 pm

LONDON, Ont. - Eight-year-old Victoria Stafford's brutally beaten body, clad only in a Hannah Montana T-shirt, lay for 103 days in garbage bags under a pile of rocks far from home, a first-degree murder trial heard Monday.

There was a light covering of snow in the farmer's field where she was left on April 8, 2009, after being killed with several blows to the head with a hammer, a jury in London, Ont., was told in the Crown's opening statement. The snow was long gone by the time her badly decomposed remains, with a pair of butterfly earrings belonging to her mother, were found by a police officer on July 19.

Tori was snatched by Michael Rafferty and his girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, outside her elementary school and driven more than 100 kilometres away to an isolated area near Mount Forest, Ont., the Crown said. It was there that she died a violent death in a clearing surrounded by trees — around a bend, up a hill and down a gravel laneway off a rural road, court heard.

The Crown's horrifying account of the Grade 3 student's last hours, after she was grabbed outside her school in Woodstock, Ont., was laid out Monday.

Tori was abducted by Rafferty and McClintic, sexually assaulted and brutally beaten to death within the span of several hours, Crown attorney Kevin Gowdey told the jury. McClintic, 21, has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.

Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

The jury was warned that over the course of the trial, expected to last 2 1/2 months, they will hear graphic and disturbing evidence. A pathologist will testify that Tori died from multiple blows to her head with a hammer. Blunt impacts to her body also lacerated her liver and fractured her ribs, Gowdey said. Her remains, not discovered for three months, were found naked from the waist down.

He told the jury it's not their job to determine who wielded the hammer, but to decide whether Rafferty and McClintic "acted together."

"In the end it is not necessary or essential that you determine exactly who did what, for example which of the two delivered the hammer blows to the skull or who inflicted the trauma to Tori's body that lacerated her liver, broke her ribs," Gowdey said.

Rafferty, wearing a grey suit and a blue-striped tie, sat expressionless as he listened to the Crown describe the alleged events of the day Tori went missing.

McClintic herself will be testifying soon, Gowdey said, about what led up to the kidnapping, what happened that day and how the pair tried to cover their tracks.

"When you have heard her evidence you will unquestionably be disturbed by the choices that she made with Michael Rafferty to bring this all about," Gowdey said. "I expect that her credibility will be a major issue in this case. It is because she had such a significant role in what happened that she's able to give us so much detail.

"Listen to her evidence carefully and cautiously."

Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney gave his instructions to the jury Monday morning, telling the nine women and three men there will be evidence presented "that many people would consider to be graphic and disturbing."

He also cautioned them that the Crown's opening statement should not be taken as evidence.

After Rafferty and McClintic kidnapped Tori they drove with her to Guelph, Ont., where Rafferty bought a "large number" of percocets from a friend, then they drove to a Home Depot where McClintic bought a claw hammer and some garbage bags, Gowdey said.

Rafferty's movements that day can be traced with the help of cellphone towers, as he frequently used his BlackBerry, Gowdey added.

McClintic was arrested on April 12 on an unrelated matter after several tips came in suggesting she was a mystery woman wearing a white puffy jacket walking with Tori on surveillance footage from near Tori's school. After her arrest Rafferty frequently talked with her by phone and visited her at a detention centre, until he too was arrested on May 19, Gowdey said.

A search of both of their homes turned up Victoria Stafford missing posters in each, he said.

In McClintic's house police also found a script for what she should say if the police accused her of being the woman in the white jacket on the surveillance video, Gowdey said.

Testing on Rafferty's car revealed blood on one of the doors matched Tori's DNA with near certainty, and blood on a gym bag was found to have a mixture of DNA profiles, of which Tori and Rafferty cannot be excluded, Gowdey said.

Outside court earlier Monday, her father Rodney Stafford said it's hard for him to be in the same room as the man accused of killing his daughter, and he hopes Tori's name will be remembered more than the man in the prisoner's dock.

"It's not about Rafferty, it's about the little girl who lost her life," he said, carefully choosing his words because the trial is underway.

"It's heartbreaking because there's nothing you can do or say without ruining the potential, what's going to come of this ... It's ridiculous."

Rodney Stafford, his girlfriend, his mother and his brother were in court Monday. Tori's mother, Tara McDonald, will be called to testify, Gowdey said. She was at the courthouse Monday but not in the courtroom, as witnesses are not allowed to attend a trial before they testify.

After the morning break, media and spectators were asked to clear the courtroom. Court was resumed at 1:30 p.m. with an in-camera hearing, meaning only lawyers and the judge were present. The Crown's opening statement began after that hearing.

Rodney Stafford said it's been a struggle for the family to cope with their loss.

"Up, down, all over the place. It's hard to explain," Stafford said outside court. "You can't even put it into words because from one minute to another you're all over the place. One song could change your total demeanour from being positive to a ... whimpering fool. It's not like I want to be like this."

During the trial, the jury is set to visit the site where Tori's body was found.

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  • Rodney Stafford, father of slain Victoria Stafford, speaks to the media as he arrives at the courthouse in London Ontario, Tuesday, May 15, 2012 for the sentencing hearing for Michael Rafferty, who was convicted Friday of Victoria's murder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

  • After The Verdict

    Rodney Stafford, father of slain Victoria Stafford reacts after Michael Rafferty was found guilty on all three charges at the murder trial in London, Ontario, Friday, May 11, 2012. <br> THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

  • Reaction

    Rodney Stafford, father of slain Victoria Stafford holds a photo of his daughter as he speaks to the media, with his mother Doreen Graichen, sister Rebecca Nichols and brother Rob Stafford looking on, after Michael Rafferty was found guilty on all three charges at the murder trial in London, Ontario, Friday, May 11, 2012. <br> CREDIT: CP

  • Longest Day

    Rodney Stafford, father of Victoria (Tori) Stafford, holds his head in in hands late in the afternoon at the courthouse for the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ont., Friday, May 11, 2012. <br> CREDIT: CP

  • Rodney Stafford, father of slain eight-year-old Woodstock girl Victoria Stafford, talks to reporters during a break in proceedings at the trial of Michael Rafferty, the accused in his daughter's murder in London, Ontario, Tuesday, May 1, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

  • The grave of Victoria (Tori) Stafford on Easter Sunday, the third anniversary of the day the eight-year-old girl vanished while walking home from school, in Woodstock, Ontario, Sunday, April, 8, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Dirk Derstein, defence lawyer for Michael Rafferty, the accused in the murder of Woodstock, Ontario schoolgirl Victoria Stafford talks briefly with reporters during a break in proceedings at the trial in London, Ontario, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

  • Terri-Lynn McClintic and Michael Rafferty are shown in these police handout photos released as court exhibits at Rafferty's trial in London, Ont., Wednesday, April 4, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

  • Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic embrace in this still image taken from a police handout video dated May 8, 2009. Rafferty visited McClintic twice at a detention centre, where she was taken after being arrested days after the killing of Victoria Stafford on an unrelated matter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)

  • Terri-Lynn McClintic is shown in police handout photos released as court exhibits at Michael Rafferty's trial in London, Ont., Thursday, April 5, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

  • Michael Rafferty is shown in a police handout photo released as court exhibits at Rafferty's trial in London, Ont., Thursday, April 5, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

  • Michael Rafferty's 2003 Honda Civic is shown in this court handout photo along with other exhibits. A tiny spot of dried blood on the rubber moulding of the back passenger side door on Michael Rafferty's car was found to contain DNA matching the eight-year-old girl's profile, forensic biologist Jennifer McLean testified Wednesday at Rafferty's trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

  • A butterfly earring worn by Victoria Stafford are shown in this evidence photo released Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at the trial trial of Michael Rafferty. Court has heard that she had borrowed the earrings from her mom on April 8, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

  • Victoria Stafford's T-shirt is shown in this evidence photo released Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at the trial trial of Michael Rafferty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

  • Michael Rafferty is transported from the courthouse in the back of police cruiser in London, Ontario, Wednesday, March, 14, 2012. Rafferty is facing charges in the death of Victoria (Tori) Stafford. Court is hearing that Rafferty was "stressed out" in the days after her disappearance.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Accused Michael Rafferty is shown in court in London, Ont., Monday, March 5, 2012 in this artist's sketch. The trial of Rafferty, 31, began Monday nearly three years after Victoria Stafford disappeared outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tammy Hoy)

  • Terri-Lynne McClintic, left, is transported from court for proceedings in the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ontario, Friday, March, 16, 2012. Rafferty is charged with several offences including first-degree murder in the death of eight-year-old Victoria "Tori" Stafford. McClintic is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty two years ago to first-degree murder in Tori's death. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

  • Evidence letter written by Terri-Lynne McClintic in the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ont., Thursday, March, 22, 2012. Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. McClintic has already plead guilty of first degree murder in the case. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Rodney Stafford, father of slain Victoria (Tori) Stafford walks from the courthouse during a break in the proceedings for the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ontario, Thursday, March, 22, 2012. Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

  • A tearful Tara McDonald, mother of slain eight-year-old Woodstock girl Victoria Stafford, receives a hug from partner James Goris during a break in proceedings at the trial for Michael Rafferty, the accused in her daughter's murder in London Ontario,Tuesday, March 13, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

  • Tara McDonald (center) mother of slain Victoria (Tori) Stafford walks from court after completing her testimony in the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ontario, Wednesday, March, 7, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Terri-Lynne McClintic is transported from court for proceedings in the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ontario, Friday, March, 16, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Terri-Lynne McClintic is transported from court for proceedings in the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ontario, Friday, March, 16, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Terri-Lynne McClintic testifies at the Michael Rafferty murder trial in London, Ont., Tuesday, March 13, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tammy Hoy)

  • The Disappearance And Death Of Tori Stafford

    Victoria (Tori) Stafford, 8, disappeared while on her way home from school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. (Photo: An undated family handout, CP). <em>The following text is by the Huffington Post Canada, will files from CP</em>

  • For weeks, her parents, family friends and community members searched for the little girl. <em>(Photo: Cassandra Craig and Shiloh Roth hang a poster for missing Stafford, 8, on a street corner in Woodstock, Ont., on Friday April 10, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)</em>

  • Meanwhile, hundreds of police searched local ponds, a landfill, and used a helicopter for aerial sweeps of Oxford County. <em>(Photo: Ontario Provincial Police officers search the Oxford County landfill site Tuesday, April 21, 2009, for clues. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)</em>

  • Tori's mother, Tara McDonald, held daily press conferences as the national media descended on the town of 35,000 in southern Ontario. <em>(Photo: Tara McDonald speaks to reporters in Woodstock, Tuesday, April 21, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)</em>

  • The girl's body was found three months later in a field near Mount Forest, Ont. <em>(PHOTO: Funeral home attendants load the remains of the girl into a hearse July 20, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)</em>

  • Michael Rafferty, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping in the death of Victoria Stafford. His trial began with jury selection in the last days of February, 2012. <em>(Photo: Rafferty leaves the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., Feb. 7, 2011).</em>

  • Terri-Lynne McClintic, now 21, has already been convicted of first-degree murder in the girl's death. She pleaded guilty in April 2010 and was given a mandatory life sentence, with no chance of parole for 25 years. <em>(PHOTO: An undated Facebook photo of McClintic).</em>

  • McClintic's guilty plea could not be reported until December 2010 due to a sweeping publication ban imposed by Justice Dougald McDermid. The ban was partially lifed by the Supreme Court of Canada, though some details remain under the ban in order to protect Rafferty's right to a fair trial. <em>(PHOTO: Justice McDermid enters court in Woodstock, Ont., on Friday, April 30, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins)</em>

  • After Tori's funeral, her father, Rodney Stafford, went on a bike ride to Edmonton in her memory with Child Find Ontario, the <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/1135756--the-main-players-in-the-tori-stafford-murder-case-where-are-they-now?bn=1" target="_hplink">Toronto Star reports</a>. He raised more than $25,000. He plans to attend the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/02/26/stafford-murder-trial.html" target="_hplink">murder trial, telling CBC,</a> "There'll never be closure because I still wake up every morning without my daughter." <em>(PHOTO: Stafford, father of slain eight-year-old Tori Stafford, leaves court in London, Ont., on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins)</em>

  • Rafferty's trial was moved from Woodstock to nearby London in light of publicity surrounding the girl's death. His lawyer, Dirk Derstine, suggested outside court that people should keep an open mind. "I expect that the evidence to be called will be different than what everybody is perhaps expecting," he said. <em>(PHOTO: Dirk Derstine leaves court in London, Ont., on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins)</em>

  • OPP Detective Inspector Bill Renton was the lead investigator in the Tori Stafford murder case. He's seen here arriving at the Middlesex Court House in London, Ont., Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 on the first day of jury selection in the first degree murder trial of Michael Rafferty. <em>(PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Spowart)</em>

  • Tori Stafford seen with her older brother, Daryn Stafford, in this family handout. <em>(Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)</em>

  • Crown lawyers outside the courthouse where the Michael Rafferty trial is being held.

  • The Trial, In Photos

    Rafferty's mother spoke Monday, May 7, for the first time since her son was arrested and charged in May 2009, six weeks after Tori was killed. She placed the blame for what happened to Tori squarely on Terri-Lynne McClintic. "My son is innocent," Deborah Murphy said as she faced a wall of cameras outside the courthouse. "This could happen to any man that's walking around right now. Terri-Lynne McClintic has wrecked our lives and I just hope that justice is served and that he's free." (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

  • Tara McDonald, mother of slain eight-year-old Woodstock girl Victoria Stafford, receives a hug following the last day of evidence in the trial of Michael Rafferty, the accused in her daughter's murder, in London Ontario, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

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