Killer Michael Rafferty to get government-funded lawyer to assist in appeal, court rules

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LONDON, Ont. — The Ontario Appeal Court has paved the way for Michael Rafferty to fight his first-degree murder conviction in the 2009 slaying of Victoria Stafford, 8.

And if you live in Ontario, you’ll be paying for his lawyer.

In a ruling released Tuesday, Justice Marc Rosenberg granted Rafferty more time to prepare his case and ordered the province to find a way to pay for a lawyer.

“In my view … the appeal is an arguable one,” he wrote.

Rosenberg ruled that Legal Aid Ontario should be asked once again to provide Rafferty a lawyer. Failing that, the Attorney General of Ontario should pay for Toronto lawyer Paul Calarco to take the case.

Rafferty is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, sexual assault and killing of Woodstock, Ont., girl, who disappeared while walking home after school April 8, 2009.

"I don’t want to believe that any person in our justice system would give this guy the appeal," Doreen Graichen, Tori’s grandmother, said Tuesday. "This is crazy. This is going to be in our faces for the rest of my life.”

Tori’s father Rodney Stafford said he wasn’t surprised at the decision.

"The justice system isn’t seeing that we the real victims are continuously forced to suffer this heinous loss over and over again."

Shortly after his 2012 conviction in a London, Ont., court, Rafferty began an attempt to appeal.

He was denied four times by Legal Aid Ontario for financial help in getting a lawyer before attempting to get one through Section 684.

Much of the case against Rafferty at his 2012 trial came from the testimony of his former girlfriend, Terri-Lynn McClintic.

McClintic is also serving a life sentence for the murder, after admitting she lured Tori to Rafferty’s car with a promise of seeing a puppy, and joined the drive to a remote location where the assault took place.

But McClintic changed her story at trial, saying it was she, not Rafferty, who dealt the fatal hammer blows to Tori.

A violent woman damaged by an abuse-filled past, McClintic’s credibility and her contradictory statements became issues at the trial.

During their deliberations, jurors asked to watch again the police videotape of her confession.

That confession was entered as evidence only after legal arguments about the reliability and value of what’s called prior inconsistent statements, and could become part of an appeal.