In a blistering day-long attack marked by mockery and meticulousness, Michael Rafferty’s defence lawyer suggested to the Crown’s key witness Thursday she was the "engine that drove the events of the day" eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford was abducted, raped and killed.
Lawyer Dirk Derstine had no problem with Terri-Lynne McClintic’s tearful and recent acceptance she was the one who killed Tori, but he pushed her to admit a deeper involvement.
"When can we accept that you would be able to tell us you did more than just kill her? That in fact, I am going to suggest to you, that you were the engine that drove the events of the day?"
"That will never happen because that is not the truth," McClintic countered.
Methodically dissecting McClintic’s lengthy criminal record, private journal entries, police interviews, Facebook pages, favourite music, dog-walking habits, knowledge of Tori’s neighbourhood, and the infamous surveillance videotape that showed Tori’s abduction, Derstine painted a picture of a violent liar who knew Tori well enough to lead her away without a worry about a parent interfering and without the need for conversation on April 8, 2009.
He called McClintic’s lies in a police interview an "Oscar-winning performance." Derstine snapped his fingers once as he pretended to suddenly remember McClintic’s ability to explain away those lies by saying she had psychologically blocked horrible truth.
But no matter how often she cried, or sighed heavily or struggled to speak with her eyes downcast, and there were countless times, McClintic withstood the attacks and fought back.
"I was just doing what I was told to do," she said about snatching Tori off the street outside her school.
"What you chose to do," Derstine said.
"What I was told to do…," she retorted.
"It’s not really your fault you took Tori because somebody else made you," he continued later in the exchange.
"I did what I did. I’m not the only guilty party here, and that is why I am sitting here today," McClintic said.
McClintic’s most dramatic counterattack came about two-thirds through the day in a speech about April 8, 2009.
"When I woke up April 8, I never had murder on my mind. I did not plan on kidnapping a little girl. Later on that day when I walked down the street with that little girl, I did not think I was walking her to her death and I sure as hell didn’t think it would be my hands that took her life," she said in tears
The day seemed like the trial of McClintic, not Rafferty, and Justice Thomas Heeney had to remind jurors that questions and suggestions aren’t evidence unless a witness accepts them as truth.
McClintic, 21, is the woman caught in a surveillance video leading Tori away after school in Woodstock, Ont., April 8, 2009. Four days later, she was arrested on an outstanding warrant and interviewed by police.
She denied knowing anything about the abduction until she took a polygraph test May 19 and confessed, providing vague details of the abduction.
Rafferty was arrested the same day. Five days later, McClintic was interviewed for six hours, and said Rafferty raped and kicked Tori, then killed her with a hammer.
Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault causing bodily harm.
In April 2010, McClintic, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was expected to be the Crown’s key witness, but on the stand testified she was the one who killed Tori. She maintains Rafferty directed the abduction and raped the girl.
Derstine began his assault on McClintic’s story first by showing the jury several pages from her journal in 2007 and 2008, a series of violent rap verses about killing people.
"Thinking about something and acting upon them are totally different things," McClintic said. "I had anger issues."
"You confessed under oath to beating a child to death. That is a little bit more than anger issues, wouldn’t you agree?" Derstine shot back.
McClintic took a moment to collect her composure and in rambling reply, declared, "I’m not making excuses for what happened. I will never make excuses for what happened."
In one journal entry, McClintic wrote about stabbing someone, cleaning up the mess and the next day walking "with a grin on my face."
Derstine also detailed McClintic’s criminal record, which began with throwing a rock through an OPP office, and choking, punching and in other ways assaulting several other youths and twice her mother.
After a release from custody in the summer of 2008, McClintic reported to a probation officer in Woodstock, who grew concerned about some of the teen’s violent fantasies and recommended she go to counselling.
McClintic insisted in court she had been changing into a better person at the time but had faltered a bit. Derstine would have none of it and several times appeared to mock her "transformation."
McClintic ignored the order to get help and fled to London for a time. That was the breach that landed her back in custody April 12, 2009.
Four days earlier, of course, she had lured Tori away from school.
McClintic gave short yes and no answers to Derstine’s questions, some of them suggestions, about how well she knew Tori.
No, she did not know Tori had lived for a long time on the route she walked her dog. No, she did not know Tori’s new home was near her own. No, she did not walk up the hill at rapid pace with Tori following obediently.
"Are you sure you did not meet Tori (before)?" Derstine asked.
"I’m positive," McClintic said.
Derstine showed the jury clips from McClintic’s videotaped interview with Det. Const. Sean Kelly on April 12.
Chatty and comfortable, McClintic tells Kelly she was hurrying home, a bit under the influence, after a drug run on the afternoon of April 8 but didn’t see anything that happened. She happily stands up to show how she wears her purse and carries her iPod and bends down to explain what wedgie shoes are.
"Do you remember a line from a journal, a cold blooded killer with a grin on my face," Derstine asked McClintic after one clip. "Is that what we are seeing here?"
"No, I had pushed things out of my mind. I just couldn’t believe what had happened."
In the videotaped interview, police show McClintic the surveillance video of the woman leading Tori away. Is that you in the video? Kelly asks her.
"No, there’s no way in hell," she replies and repeats it again, laughing, "There is no way in hell."
On the stand, McClintic told Derstine she believed what she was saying at the time because she had blocked the horror of what she’d done from her mind.
She also blocked the truth from her mind during the May 19 polygraph interview.
Rafferty remained emotionless for much of the day, except when McClintic described how he once took her to a pawn shop and placed an engagement ring on her finger.
Rafferty said to her, "Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the lucky girl," McClintic testified.
In the prisoners’ box, Rafferty rolled his eyes and shook his head at that.