Michael Rafferty Trial: Crown Wraps Case With Video Analyst

CP  |  By Posted: 04/26/2012 8:54 am Updated: 04/26/2012 8:13 pm

LONDON, Ont. - The car allegedly used to abduct Victoria Stafford was an assortment of poorly installed or oddly fashioned modifications, and it was those unique features the Crown used Thursday to link to video of a car repeatedly driving past Tori's school as the last evidence in its case.

After eight weeks, 61 witnesses and 186 exhibits, the Crown concluded its case Thursday against Michael Rafferty. It will be in the defence's hands on Tuesday.

The last images Crown attorneys left the jury with were all the relevant surveillance footage collected, largely from April 8, 2009, the day Tori vanished outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont.

On that day, a car believed to be Rafferty's is seen driving past Oliver Stephens Public School at 9:04 a.m. It is seen there again at 3:05 p.m.

It is at a nearby gas station at 3:20 p.m., then drives by the school one last time at 3:30 p.m. A car believed to be the same one pulls into the parking lot of a retirement home up the street.

Two minutes later, Rafferty's girlfriend Terri-Lynne McClintic walks past the same spot with Tori. They're seen on video crossing the street and entering the retirement home parking lot.

One minute later, a tiny image of a car believed to be Rafferty's can be seen driving away from that area.

The car alleged to be Rafferty's arrives 1 1/2 hours later at a Home Depot parking lot in Guelph, Ont. A person wearing a white top gets out of the car and walks toward a neighbouring gas station. Rafferty, wearing a white shirt, is captured on the gas station's interior camera walking toward the ATM, and records show he withdrew $80.

The person wearing white returns to the car in question and it drives closer in the parking lot to the Home Depot. McClintic hops out of the passenger side of the car, goes into the store, purchases garbage bags and a hammer — the murder weapon — then returns to the car.

The last shot is the car pulling out of the vast parking lot and heading toward the highway.

The Crown alleges Rafferty then drove north to a rural area, where there were no more surveillance cameras to capture his movements, and it was in a secluded farmer's field that Tori was raped and killed.

The surveillance camera footage largely accords with McClintic's version of events from that day — she would later confess and is now serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.

But as their last witness the Crown looked to Gerald Lanna, a forensic video analyst with the Ontario Provincial Police, for more certainty about what is seen on the footage.

The best quality video of the car, at the first gas station at 3:20 p.m., left Lanna with the most certainty. The blotchy black paint job over most of the blue car, the whitewashed interior, the dark rims, the rear spoiler and the off-centre air intake on the hood of the car were several features of Rafferty's 2003 Honda Civic that match those on the video.

"To me, I would have to say that that's our vehicle," Lanna testified.

In the other videos, where the "vehicle of interest" drives past Tori's school three times and where it waits for McClintic in the Home Depot parking lot, detail in the image was lacking, so the best Lanna could say was that he could find no differences between Rafferty's car and the one on the video.

Police went to Honda to ask about the "hood scoop" or air intake on the hood of Rafferty's car and discovered it was not a Honda option. The company said it would be "quite unusual" for a factory or dealer to install such a scoop because of its negative impact in crash tests, Lanna testified.

Rafferty's lawyer Dirk Derstine questioned Lanna in cross-examination about his conclusions, in particular the uniqueness of the features of Rafferty's car. Alone they would not be considered unique, but all together they make the car stand out, Lanna said. The "hood scoop" would be an especially rare feature, he said.

"If you open the hood of that vehicle ... it looks like it almost was self-installed," Lanna said. "I don't think a reputable dealer would put a hood scoop in like that...It was just put in by a person like me that doesn't have that type of skill."

Lanna determined the car on all three videos near the school is the same make of vehicle by laying the images over each other. He agreed under Derstine's sharp cross-examination that he could not say for certain that they are each the exact same car.

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping in Stafford's death.

McClintic, who confessed to abducting Tori and implicated Rafferty in the murder, was the Crown's star witness, testifying over six days about what she says happened that day.

Up until the trial, McClintic maintained Rafferty killed Tori, but while she testified that she had actually killed the girl, other details of her story remained the same, such as saying that Rafferty urged her to kidnap a young girl and that he sexually assaulted Tori.

Crown attorney Kevin Gowdey told the nine women and three men of the jury in his opening address that it is not necessary for them to determine who exactly did what, but whether Rafferty and McClintic acted together to bring about the girl's death.

The trial, which began March 5, got off to an emotional start as Tori's Grade 3 teacher Jennifer Griffin-Murrell wept while describing the "lovely" little girl's last day at school, spent jumping in puddles and researching plants on a computer.

"She was a caring little girl, very sensitive," Griffin-Murrell told the trial two months ago. "She was kind of like a mother hen to a lot of the younger kids in the (the split Grade 2/3) class. She always wanted to help."

Griffin-Murrell said Tori was inquisitive, well-liked and was "obsessed" with the TV show "Hannah Montana."

Tori was wearing a "Hannah Montana" T-Shirt the day she died. When her remains were found 103 days later near Mount Forest, Ont., she was wearing nothing else.

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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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