WARNING: Please be advised that details being heard in court are graphic.
Moments after being kidnapped outside her elementary school, eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford was deemed too old by the man now standing trial for sexual assault and first-degree murder in her death, court heard Wednesday.
A 21-year-old woman who has confessed to abducting the girl, saying she did so at the urging of boyfriend Michael Rafferty, has testified that she killed the Grade 3 student by using a hammer, but court heard Wednesday that she originally said it was Rafferty.
After she abducted Tori, Terri-Lynne McClintic testified, she brought her back to Rafferty’s waiting car, where her boyfriend got upset about her choice of a child, she said.
“He made a comment that she wasn’t young enough,” she said.
They drove off with Tori anyway, McClintic said, and the girl kept asking if she could go home, promising not to tell on them.
McClintic is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in Tori’s death. Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.
Tori was killed on April 8, 2009, but her remains would not be found for another 103 days in a field more than 100 kilometres north of where she was abducted outside her school in Woodstock, Ont. McClintic was a person of interest in the investigation early on, court has heard, and she was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant on April 12.
McClintic, who told Rafferty at one point that she would “take the fall” for him, wrote her recollection of the events of April 8 in a document for her lawyer while in detention, including that Rafferty was the one who killed Tori with blows to the head from a hammer, court heard.
On the first day of her testimony Tuesday, McClintic said she was the one who wielded the hammer after the sexual assault of Tori prompted flashbacks to her own childhood traumas. Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney cautioned the jury on the use of prior inconsistent statements, saying that if a lie is repeated 100 times, it doesn’t make it true.
“There might be a temptation for you to conclude that because Ms. McClintic said something on at least one occasion then said the same thing on subsequent occasions that it is more likely to be the truth,” Heeney said. “That would be an improper and an illogical conclusion to draw.”
McClintic’s testimony is to continue Friday, after lawyers and the judge spend Thursday in court discussing legal issues outside the presence of the jury. Court saw two videos Wednesday — one of McClintic and Rafferty smiling and chatting at what appears to be a movie theatre box office two weeks before Tori was killed. The jury was also shown surveillance video from the Home Depot where McClintic bought the hammer used to kill Tori and garbage bags.
Rafferty, wearing an ill-fitting three-piece suit, frequently smirked and muttered to himself throughout McClintic’s testimony about the weeks between when she was arrested and when she confessed to murder, leading to charges against them both.
The pair stayed in contact while McClintic was in the detention centre, and during a visit and several telephone conversations, Rafferty worried that she would say something to police that would implicate him, McClintic testified.
“I said that I would take the fall for everything, that I would say it was all me, that he had more to lose than I did,” McClintic said.
She further told him, “he had a life, a job, things going for him and I was just, I really had nothing,” court heard. “I said don’t worry about it, it’s OK. It’s OK. I’m just an 18-year-old junkie anyways.”
Rafferty told her, “you realize what that would consist of right?” and added, “I’ve always wanted conjugal visits.”
During another visit, the couple talked about McClintic running away from the detention centre, court heard.
“He said maybe we could be like the next Bonnie and Clyde,” she said.
Rafferty appeared to scoff Wednesday when McClintic said that and stared up at the ceiling, muttering to himself.
McClintic said she will never forget what Rafferty said to her the last time she saw him at the detention centre before she confessed to police and they were both charged in Tori’s death.
“I remember touching his face and…he looked up and almost, like, laughed at me and said, ‘You’ll do anything for a little bit of love, eh?'”
Earlier Wednesday, McClintic testified that Rafferty didn’t say much right after Tori’s death, “just that we should never speak of this again.”
Court heard that Rafferty had brought changes of clothing for himself and McClintic and that after the killing they got rid of her shoes, changed clothes, used a self-serve car wash in Cambridge, Ont., dumped garbage bags that had the hammer McClintic says she used to kill the eight-year-old girl.
She and Rafferty met a few days later to discuss her alibi — she would say they went window shopping in Oakville, about two hours away from where Tori’s body was found, and stopped by a dance studio, McClintic said.
“I wrote it down in a journal so I wouldn’t forget what he said…so I wouldn’t mess anything up,” she said. Court saw several pages McClintic had written in her journal with various question and answer scenarios with police about Tori.
The trial will resume Friday.