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Rafferty jury sees autopsy photos

John Miner, QMI Agency

LONDON -- Death would not have been immediate for eight-year-old Victoria 'Tori' Stafford, the trial of Michael Rafferty heard Tuesday.

Tori suffered four major wounds to her head and 16 ribs were broken, some in several places. Her liver was lacerated.

The wounds to the head would have inevitably led to her death, while the injuries to her torso would have been fatal if left untreated, Dr. Michael Pollanen testified.

The eight-year-old girl wouldn't have lasted long, but she wouldn't have died immediately, he testified.

Microscopic tests of lung tissue indicated Tori would still have been alive when her liver was damaged, Pollanen said.

Michael Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault causing bodily harm in the death of the Woodstock school girl.

Pollanen is Ontario's chief forensic pathologist. He carried out the autopsy on Tori after her body was discovered under a rock pile near Mt. Forest in July 2009.

The official cause of Tori's death has been listed as multiple blunt impact injuries.

Members of the jury were warned to steel themselves for the photos to be shown by Pollanen, the worst of the trial.

Justice Thomas Heeney prepared the jury by reminding them it's their duty to decide the case without prejudice or sympathy.

"Emotion distorts judgment. Emotion distorts reason," Heeney said.

Warning that viewing the remains can be "confronting" even for forensic pathologists, Pollanen urged the jury to look for what can be learned from the photos.

The jury was told it could ask for a break if it needed one during the presentation of the autopsy photos. None was requested.

While Pollanen was able to detail the injuries to the head and torso, he said decomposition of the lower regions made it impossible to tell if there had been a sexual assault.

The court was shown the hooded Hannah Montana shirt Tori was wearing at the time of her death, the only garment found on the body.

Depicting a woman with a guitar, the shirt said: "A girl can dream."

Other physical evidence found with the body included two butterfly earrings, a broken hair barrette and two plastic bottle caps.

Pollanen noted the skull had been fractured, but there were no bullet holes or stab wounds on the torso.


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