Convicted child murderer wants original verdict overturned, but needs a lawyer first
The hearing could last less than half an hour and the convicted murderer will show up only by video.
But the family of Victoria (Tori) Stafford plans to head to the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto on Monday, anyway.
“I want to be there as much as I can to let everybody know that we are still standing behind Victoria,” said her father, Rodney Stafford. “We don’t have to go, but all of us want to show Victoria that we’re still here, we care that she’s gone.”
His eight-year-old daughter was walking home from school in Woodstock on April 8, 2009, when she was kidnapped, driven to a remote rural lane two hours away, sexually assaulted and killed.
Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic are serving life sentences for kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder.
Rafferty has appealed that conviction, saying the judge in his trial last year failed to properly instruct the jury and that the jury didn’t properly understand the required evidence to convict him of first-degree murder.
Rafferty is to appear Monday by video for a hearing in Ontario’s highest court that will likely focus on his attempt to get taxpayers to foot the bill for an appeal lawyer.
Rafferty’s appeal will keep dragging the family back into court and back to the horror of Tori’s disappearance and death, Stafford said.
“It does really bother me, but there’s nothing I can do to control anything. These people like to play games and do everything they can and say everything they can to get themselves out of a cell for a day,” he said. “I’m not going to let this idiot for one second think that he’s got away with anything.”
One of Tori’s uncles and a grandmother also plan to attend the hearing.
The kidnapping of the bright-eyed and lively girl captivated the nation in the spring of 2009, as investigators focused their suspicions on the girl’s mother and thousands of people, believing Tori was still alive, searched for her.
The arrests of McClintic and Rafferty in May 2009 put those suspicions to rest, but shocked members of the public and even experienced investigators who refused to believe the luring and killing could be done by random predators haunting a street full of children walking home from school.
McClintic pleaded guilty in April 2010 and testified against her former boyfriend.
Rafferty’s three-month trial was marked by McClintic’s graphic testimony and violent past, Rafferty’s string of women and chilling post-killing behaviour, as well as heartbreaking testimony from those who knew Tori and the police who tried to find her alive.
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- Michael Rafferty, Victoria (Tori) Stafford’s killer, has already been denied Ontario legal aid for his appeal, which a criminal lawyer estimated would cost at least $70,000.
- Now he’s applying for a lawyer under Sect. 684 of the Criminal Code, which permits it, “where, in the opinion of the court or judge, it appears desirable in the interests of justice that the accused should have legal assistance, and where it appears that the accused has not sufficient means to obtain that assistance.”