McClintic, Rafferty equally guilty in Tori Stafford's death: Crown
London Community News
Raveena Aulakh/Torstar News Service
London, Ont. — Terri-Lynne McClintic was not an innocent bystander in Tori Stafford’s brutal death but she is not the only one responsible for it, said the Crown in the high-profile murder trial.
“Don’t try to think that the Crown is saying that Terri-Lynne McClintic is not guilty,” said Crown attorney Kevin Gowdey on Wednesday morning as he addressed jurors during closing arguments. “There’s no excuse in the world for what happened that day. The Crown says the two are equally guilty.”
By two, he meant Michael Rafferty: the man sitting in prisoner’s box, the man accused in Tori’s murder.
Tori, 8, disappeared 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 badly decomposed body was found near Mount Forest, Ont. in July. McClintic pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in April, 2010.
Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. His trial started March 5.
The Crown began its lengthy closing arguments on Tuesday and Gowdey had just one message for the jury: Rafferty and McClintic were in it together. On Wednesday, he focused on McClintic’s testimony, which lasted six days during the trial; she was grilled by the Crown and by the defence lawyer.
Gowdey urged jurors to look at evidence that corroborates her testimony and then piece by piece, he went through 25 different parts of her testimony that corroborated with other witnesses, phone records and video surveillance. “Look at how she appeared when she testified,” he said. “Most importantly, look at the rest of evidence and how it comes together.”
McClintic is not smart enough to have planned and carried out an abduction and murder on her own. Neither was Rafferty, said Gowdey, adding “They needed each other.”
He also called McClintic’s life tragic. “Imagine how she must have felt coming forward and sharing all those horrible things she had done ... she told police that it was her idea to buy the hammer because she didn’t want to testify. Who would, knowing what he had done and having to tell the whole world.”
McClintic’s credibility had taken a beating because she lied, Gowdey acknowledged, and said he doesn’t expect the jurors to believe every word of what she said.
She initially told investigators she lured Tori at Rafferty’s behest and he raped and killed the child. She changed that statement drastically in January 2012 and said it was she, not Rafferty, who wielded the hammer that killed Tori. But she maintained the rest was true.
Her testimony still formed the basis of the Crown’s case against Rafferty
Tori’s father Rodney Stafford was not in court on Wednesday. He said listening again to his daughter’s last moments has been tough.
In the prisoner’s box, Rafferty appeared to mutter something occasionally. Sometimes, he scowled and shook his head as Gowdey addressed jurors.
On Monday, during the defence’s closing arguments, Rafferty’s lawyer, Dirk Derstine viciously attacked McClintic’s credibility. “I am going to suggest that Terri-Lynne McClintic is a prolific and accomplished liar,” said Derstine, adding she was the driving force behind Tori’s abduction and murder.
The trial is expected to go to the jury on Thursday or Friday.