NEWS

Tori Stafford family to face Rafferty in court

05/14/2012 10:27 EDT | Updated 07/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Michael Rafferty is scheduled to appear at a sentencing hearing Tuesday in London, Ont., days after he was found guilty of murder, sexual assault and kidnapping in the death of eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford.

He is facing a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Tori disappeared outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. Her partially clothed remains were found more than three months later in a rural area 100 kilometres north of the city.

Her family will also give victim impact statements during what is expected to be an emotional sentencing hearing. Rafferty, who did not testify at his trial, will also be given a chance to speak.

The 31-year-old was convicted of first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping Friday night, following the jury’s first full day of deliberations. Jurors were unaware that Rafferty had searched for child pornography in the weeks before Tori was abducted.

The verdict followed a lengthy and emotional 10-week trial that heard from 62 witnesses, including Terri-Lynne McClintic. She is currently serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the first-degree murder of Tori two years ago.

McClintic, 21, testified that she lured Tori to Rafferty’s car shortly after the eight-year-old left Oliver Stephens Public School on his orders. The pair drove the girl to Guelph and then Mount Forest, where Rafferty raped Tori, according to McClintic.

The sexual assault sent her into a rage, McClintic testified, so she killed Tori with a hammer. However, she maintained up until January of this year that Rafferty was the one who bludgeoned the girl to death.

Defence lawyer Dirk Derstine said Friday night that the decision to appeal the verdict lies with Rafferty and it would be made in "due course."

Rodney Stafford, Tori's father, will be among those delivering a victim impact statement. He attended nearly every day of the trial, and gave almost daily press conferences outside the courthouse.

"I spent a better part of probably three or four hours trying to jumble words together and I only came up with something short," Stafford told CBC News. "There's no words that express the way I'm feeling."

Stafford said he was happy with the outcome following Friday's verdict, but also that there was a sense of loss because his daughter would never be coming home.

"There's nothing we can do to change that," he said, "but it's a lot better knowing that those two monsters are off the street and they're not going to hurt anybody else."

Rafferty's trial began on March 5.

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