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Michael Rafferty Trial Closing Arguments: Evidence Points To Rafferty's Guilt, Crown Argues

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MICHAEL RAFFERTY TRIAL CLOSING
Crown lawyers will be finishing closing arguments in the Michael Rafferty trial. | CP

LONDON, Ont. - Do not be fooled by the "murderous duo" of Terri-Lynne McClintic and Michael Rafferty, the jury that will soon be deciding Rafferty's fate was told Wednesday.

WARNING: Details from this court case may disturb some readers.

McClintic testified she once told Rafferty she would take the fall if they were caught for the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford, the Crown reminded the jury at the end of a two-day closing address.

Since her confession in Tori's murder in May 2009, McClintic had maintained that Rafferty killed the girl she abducted for his sexual pleasure. Citing an unwillingness to testify against Rafferty, McClintic began saying days before the start of his trial that she was the true killer.

That change in her testimony could be the fulfillment of the promise she once made to Rafferty, who she said laughed that she would do anything for a little bit of love, the Crown told the jury.

"Ladies and gentlemen, don't let that happen," said Crown attorney Kevin Gowdey. "Terri-Lynne McClintic is a convicted murderer. She belongs where she is, but as she says, she's not the only guilty party in this courtroom. On April 8 (2009) they were in this from start to finish...and they're guilty from start to finish."

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. McClintic is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty two years ago to first-degree murder.

McClintic, who testified that she wanted so desperately to have found a decent guy, was willing to do anything for Rafferty, Gowdey said, including procuring a young girl for him. Maybe, he said, she was even willing to kill for him.

The jury might conclude Rafferty was the killer, as McClintic maintained for so long, or they might conclude McClintic was the killer, Gowdey said, but he cast doubt on her assertion that she snapped after seeing Rafferty rape the child, flew into a rage and killed her.

Gowdey expressed skepticism that this fit of homicidal rage would include taking the step of tying a garbage bag over Tori's head before striking her several times in the head with a hammer.

Both of them knew all along that once they snatched Tori from outside her school in Woodstock, Ont., that she would never be returning home, Gowdey said.

"Mr. Rafferty's life was full of many partners," Gowdey said, referencing an endless stream of ex-girlfriends who testified.

"He picked the right partner for this enterprise. You could possibly decide that after he was done what he wanted to do with the child sexually, he turned to McClintic, the violent one, the Lucifer who was ready to do his bidding, because he knew they couldn't take Tori back."

McClintic certainly has a violent past, listened to death rap songs with sickening lyrics and wrote letters expressing fantasies about unspeakable torture, Gowdey said. But that is just a defence distraction, he said.

"They were in it together," Gowdey said, finishing his closing argument the same way he began. "They did it together. They are guilty together."

If the jury is satisfied that Rafferty and McClintic each played roles as a "terrible team" to abduct and kill Tori Stafford, it doesn't matter who they think wielded the hammer, Gowdey said.

"A murderous duo, each taking part in one way or the other in all of the events that lead to the murder of Victoria," Gowdey said. "That's what happened on April the 8th, 2009. That's what happened to Victoria Stafford. That's how she was kidnapped, raped and murdered. Michael Rafferty did all of that. It has been proven to you beyond a reasonable doubt."

Except for the change in her story about who killed Tori, McClintic has otherwise maintained the same version of events since she confessed in May 2009.

"If you're making all this up against Mr. Rafferty, the horrified, unsuspecting witness, why would she choose to make up details like these that all were independently confirmed?" Gowdey asked the jury.

He rattled off a list of 25 things he said were independently confirmed through surveillance video, receipts and other evidence.

Rafferty's lawyer suggested McClintic masterminded the whole murder scheme, that there was no sexual assault, and that Rafferty was a mere bystander to his twisted girlfriend's plot.

As he did during part of Gowdey's closing address Tuesday, Rafferty muttered to himself, appearing to disagree with the Crown's arguments.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney told the jury that he would give them his final instructions Thursday before sending them out to deliberate. He told them to prepare to be sequestered Thurdsay afternoon, but that he couldn't guarantee that he would finish all of the instructions on Thursday.

"It's long of necessity because there are a lot of complicated rules I need to explain to you," Heeney told the jury. "I'm going to be long. I'm going to be probably boring but that's just simply the way it goes."

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