London Community News
LONDON, ONT.—Terri-Lynne McClintic and Michael Rafferty were in it together — from the beginning to the end. They abducted Tori Stafford
together, they killed her together, they cleaned up together.
“Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking they weren’t together,” said Crown Kevin Gowdey during closing arguments of the high-profile murder trial Tuesday.
It doesn’t matter who wielded the hammer that killed Tori, said Gowdey.
“This was a joint enterprise in my submission,” he said, and step-by-step, led the jury through the evidence that has been presented in the past 10 weeks that points to Rafferty’s involvement in Tori’s murder.
Tori, 8, disappeared while on her way home from school on April 8, 2009 in Woodstock, Ont. McClintic and Rafferty, then lovers, were arrested and charged a month later. Tori’s body was found near Mount Forest in July 2009. McClintic pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in April 2010.
Rafferty’s trial started on March 5.
Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.
Gowdey retraced McClintic and Rafferty’s steps from outside Tori’s school from where she was abducted to Mount Forest where she was brutally beaten and killed.
If Rafferty was an innocent bystander, as depicted by the defence, then why did he park about 300 metres away from Oliver Stephens Public School, Gowdey asked. And when he saw Tori being brought to his car by McClintic, why didn‘t Rafferty ask “Who is this little girl? Why is she here? How long will you have this child? Why are you making me park so far from the school?”
How long would it have taken Rafferty to realize that something was wrong, he almost wondered aloud.
He reminded the 12 jurors that Rafferty had worked in Guelph about six to seven years ago and knew the Mount Forest area well. “If Tori was some kind of a barter, then they did not need to go into Mr. Rafferty’s old territory,” he said.
Gowdey also pointed out, numerous times, that when Tori’s body was found, she was naked from the waist down. “No pants, no underpants, no skirt. The lower extremities were bare,” said Gowdey. He acknowledged science was unable to tell if the little girl had been raped. But he read through parts of McClintic’s testimony from earlier in the trial where she said she saw Rafferty rape Tori.
He also debunked the defence theory that McClintic abducted and killed Tori on her own for a drug debt. “Terri-Lynne McClintic did not do his by herself . . . whatever the suggestion might be. She was the violent pawn that Michael Rafferty used,” said Gowdey.
There was no evidence that Tori was targeted, that McClintic had planned the abduction, Gowdey said.
He acknowledged that McClintic had lied and has changed her statement but asked the jurors to look at the evidence. “A big part of your assessment of Terri-Lynne McClintic‘s credibility is what she has said and what we have seen in evidence,” said Gowdey.
Earlier, within minutes of launching the closing arguments, Gowdey told the jurors there are three routes to a conviction for first-degree murder: when it involves planning, sexual assault or confinement. In the Tori Stafford case, there is evidence that Rafferty’s guilty on all counts, he said.
On Monday during defence’s closing arguments
, Dirk Derstine, Rafferty’s lawyer, viciously attacked McClintic’s credibility. “I am going to suggest that Terri-Lynne McClintic is a prolific and accomplished liar,” said Derstine, adding that she was the driving force behind Tori’s abduction and murder.
He called her story, of Rafferty coercing her into abducting Tori, absurd. “The only thing that should be believed (from her testimony) is that she killed the little girl,” he said.
Derstine, however, has said McClintic abducted Tori to settle a drug debt and even “offered” the little girl sexually to Rafferty but he refused. McClintic then hammered Tori to death, he has said.
McClintic initially told investigators that she lured Tori at Rafferty’s behest and he raped and killed the little girl. She changed that statement drastically in January 2012 and said it was she, not Rafferty, who wielded the hammer that killed Tori.
The statement shocked everyone. McClintic maintained the rest was true, that she lured Tori because Rafferty told her to, that they went to a secluded spot near Mount Forest and that he raped her there.
Her testimony still formed the foundation of the Crown’s case against Rafferty; 61 witnesses were brought in, hundreds of photos were shown, much video surveillance played.
The case is expected to go to the jury on Thursday or Friday.