News of Rafferty appeal sparks outrage in Tori's hometown

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Woodstock residents were looking for blood the day after news broke that Michael Rafferty filed documents requesting an appeal of his first-degree murder conviction.

“I wish we had the death penalty,” Carol Woodhouse said when asked her thoughts of a potential appeal Friday. “I thought there was finally going to be justice for Tori and now this. It’s heartbreaking, just the thought of him appealing the conviction.”

A 12-person jury convicted Rafferty on May 11 of the first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford.

The 32-year-old now sits in solitary confinement at the Kingston Penitentiary. He filed appeal documents Thursday well after his 30-day appeal period ended.

It’s been reported Rafferty claims he was not allowed regular access to phones to seek proper legal counsel as the basis for a requested extension.

Hours after the guilty verdict was handed down, many Woodstock residents wondered if it was time to bring back the death penalty for those convicted of murdering children.

Now it seems many people in Woodstock are done questioning and now want Rafferty dead.

“The law should be an eye for an eye. Whatever you do to somebody should get done to you,” Derek Gough said just a few blocks from the site of a peaceful vigil organized days after Rafferty was convicted to honour Tori’s memory.

Across from the police station, while watering purple pansies growing in one of the city’s planters, parks employee Marquise Bonn couldn’t believe the news.

“Regardless of whether he was the one that actually committed the murder, he was there so he should receive the maximum. This is probably the last thing this family and community wants to go through. It’s been a few months (since the conviction). Hopefully the healing process has started to begin for the family and now he’s doing this. He just wants the attention,” she said.

In the document, filed with the Court of Appeal of Ontario on July 26, Rafferty says, “the jury failed to apprehend the evidentiary requirement to convict for first-degree murder.” He also says Justice Thomas Heeney failed to properly instruct the jury.

At this time, it is unknown whether the appeal will go ahead.

Tori disappeared after leaving school April 8, 2009. Her partially clothed remains were found more than three months later under a pile of rocks in Mount Forest.