WARNING: Graphic details from this court case may disturb some readers
The jury deciding whether Michael Rafferty is guilty of killing eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford asked Friday for clarification of what constitutes sexual assault and reviewed the video in which his girlfriend described in gruesome detail Tori’s alleged rape and murder.
The request by jurors to review the police interrogation video of Terry-Lynne McClintic came less than three hours into their deliberations, which began Thursday evening.
A one-hour portion of the six-hour interview McClintic gave to police in Woodstock, Ont., on May 24, 2009, six weeks after Tori’s brutally beaten body was left in a field far from home, was played for the jury Friday morning.
A tearful, sobbing McClintic tells police on the video that she saw Rafferty repeatedly sexually assault the eight-year-old girl in his car in that field on April 8, 2009. She says she turned away at times because she couldn’t bear to watch.
Then, she says, she looked over toward the car to see Tori on the ground and Rafferty kicking and stomping on her.
Clutching tissues and constantly blowing her nose, McClintic then described how Rafferty hit the little girl in the head several times with a hammer.
McClintic, who later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, told the same story at Rafferty’s trial, but with one notable exception: this time, it was she who wielded the hammer, not him.
A few days before Rafferty’s pre-trial, McClintic changed her story, blaming pent-up rage from her own childhood traumas for why she suddenly grabbed the hammer and ended Tori’s life.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney told the jury in his final instructions Thursday that it is not their task to simply choose one version of events over the other. They must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the facts point toward guilt in order to convict, he said.
Several hours after reviewing the video Friday, jurors sent a second question to Heeney, asking, “Does removing a child’s underclothing in an unlawful confinement situation constitute a sexual assault?”
The judge’s answer: Yes, because it is an application of force to the child, regardless of whether it’s in a confinement situation.
At the request of jurors, Heeney also issued a clarification of his final instructions, telling them, “If you totally reject evidence that points to innocence, meaning you neither believe it nor does it even leave you with a reasonable doubt, that does not amount to affirmative evidence of guilt.
“You still have to look at all the rest of the evidence that you do accept to see if you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the Crown has proven its case.”
At trial, Rafferty’s defence lawyer Dirk Derstine suggested during his cross-examination of McClintic that his client was little more than an innocent dupe of a bloodthirsty young woman who intended all along to kill Tori.
Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.
Read full trial coverage here.