NEWS

Tori Stafford jury on break as legal issues sorted

03/15/2012 10:03 EDT | Updated 05/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Jurors in the trial of Michael Rafferty, charged in the death of eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford, are taking a break from proceedings in London, Ont., after two days of numbing testimony.

The judge and lawyers will discuss legal issues behind closed doors Thursday. The jury will return to court Friday if the issues can be resolved, at which time Terri-Lynne McClintic will continue her testimony.

McClintic, 21, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder of the girl almost two years ago, is a witness in the Crown's case. Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to charges of abduction, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder.

On Tuesday, McClintic testified that after Rafferty, 31, sexually assaulted the girl in the back seat of his car, she returned to the vehicle and used a hammer to bludgeon Tori in a rural area near Mount Forest on April 8, 2009, the same day she was abducted after school in her hometown of Woodstock, Ont.

McClintic told the court she delivered the fatal blows after the sexual assault prompted flashbacks to her own childhood traumas. Tori's body was left under a pile of rocks, and it wasn't found for several months.

On Wednesday, McClintic described how together the two tossed Tori's clothing and backpack into a garbage bag before leaving the rural area where she was killed. She said the hammer used to hit the little girl was also bagged.

She testified that in the hours after Tori died, Rafferty told her to "never speak about this again."

McClintic also took jurors back to the day Tori disappeared, describing how she took the girl from Oliver Stephens Public School to the car where Rafferty was waiting. McClintic testified that as they drove to Guelph, Ont., Rafferty complained that the girl "wasn't young enough."

Four days after Tori's disppearance, police arrested McClintic for breaching probation and took her to a juvenile detention centre. On Wednesday, she testified that she spoke to Rafferty almost daily while in detention.

McClintic said he told her that surveillance video of her walking with Tori in Woodstock was everywhere.

"What if they find out it's you?" McClintic testified Rafferty asked her. She told the court she offered to "take the fall" for the killing, because he had more to lose than she did.

"He had a life, a job, things going for him," she said. "I'm just an 18-year-old junkie anyways. I'll take the fall for everything. I really have nothing."

McClintic said Rafferty laughed and said, "You'll do anything for a bit of love, eh?"

He also told her he looked forward to their conjugal visits in prison together.

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