murder and its brutality can’t be softened
Tori Stafford murder and its brutality can’t be softened by legal niceties: Christie BlatchfordAn hour or two earlier, as Terri Lynne McClintic was luring the little girl to her death, she’d asked her name and given her own, but told her, in the faux intimate manner of all those who mean children harm, that, “She could call me T. My niece and nephew call me T because she [the niece] can’t say my name.”
So now here it was, just a little later on April 8 in 2009, and Victoria (Tori) Stafford was calling her.
“I could hear Tori,” Ms. McClintic told OPP Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth in a videotaped interview, parts of which were played Friday at the murder t Tommy Hilfiger Outlet Stores rial of her ex boyfriend.
“Her voice saying, ‘T, T, make him stop! Make him stop!'”
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Ms. McClintic walked away, of course. By her account, her ex, Michael Rafferty, was raping the little girl as she turned her back.
This is the most flattering version of her that is available.
Ms. McClintic is either, as she told Det. Sgt. Smyth that day, the woman who helped kidnap the eight year old, abandoned her in mid attack, and then watched as Mr. Rafferty kicked, stomped and hammered her to death, or she is, as she now claims, the woman who not only did all that but also did the actual killing.
Mr. Rafferty, a meaty 31 year old, is pleading not guilty to first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault causing bodily harm.
Ms. McClintic was being questioned about that lengthy May 24, 2009 interview by prosecutor Kevin Gowdey, who played five short excerpts from it.
In testimony at Mr. Rafferty’s trial here, Ms. McClintic has told Ontario Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney and the jurors that she pointed the finger of blame at Mr. Rafferty for the murder because at the time she couldn’t face up to the fact that she had done it.
Thus Friday, Mr. Gowdey was questioning her about what, as Judge Heeney later told the jurors, “is known in the trade as a prior inconsistent statement.”
knew what he was doing, like there was no blood spatter Ms. McClintic didn’t “adopt” that earlier statement, the judge said, the jurors can’t treat it as evidence, but must use it solely to assess her credibility.
The legal language and niceties did nothing to soften the impact of the 21 year old’s testimony.
Though Ms. McClintic almost two years ago pleaded guilty to and was convicted of first degree murder for her role in Tori’s death, her appearance at this trial is the first time that details of the little girl’s last hours have become public.
On the video, Ms. McClintic often sobbed and blew her nose as she answered Det. Sgt. Smyth’s questions about the murder. As she told him once, “This isn’t easy for me to go over.”
And as she watched the excerpts on a screen in the witness box, she grew teary and snuffly again. As she told Mr. Gowdey, “It’s a difficult thing to talk about.”
In the first excerpt, for instance, she said that after stepping away from the car in which Mr. Rafferty was alleged Tommy Hilfiger Outlet Stores ly attacking the little girl, she looked back only occasionally, because she couldn’t bear to look.
She remembered sounds, she told Det. Sgt. Smyth in particular, the “rustle of garbage bags” as he placed a bag over the little girl’s head.” By this, she told Mr. Gowdey, she meant to suggest “He knew what he was doing, like there was no blood spatter. I told him [Det. Sgt. Smyth] that basically he had committed murder and that it was intent and that he knew what he was doing when he did it.”
“Was that not true?” Mr. Gowdey asked.
“It was true,” Ms. McClintic replied, “but it wasn’t him that did it, it was me.”
She was adamant that she was the killer. Once, in reply to a question, she told Mr. Gowdey “except it was myself who was hitting her” with the hammer. She said it was also she who kicked Tori in the ribs, and stomped on her.
When the prosecutor asked why she chose to blame Mr. Rafferty, she asked, “Rather than admit it was myself, you mean?”, then said, “Because I could not accept that I was capable of committing something so heinous.
“He was the one who wanted to kidnap a child. He was the one who raped that child. He must be the monster” who also killed her. “I don’t understand what happened that day,” she added.
was the one who wanted to kidnap a child little later, she told Mr. Gowdey that the version starring Mr. Rafferty as the killer “was what I wanted to believe in my mind, that was what I had to believe in order to handle it.”
After the killing, or as Ms. McClintic put it, with trademark false starts, “After after after her death,” she said, “I was pretty stunned and was just standing there and he [Mr. Rafferty] started to put her in garbage bags and I was just standin Tommy Hilfiger Outlet Stores g ther Tommy Hilfiger Outlet Stores e.” He snapped at her that “I needed to help, I was in it just as far as he was now.”
Later on the video, she described this to the detective as the moment Mr. Rafferty “was bagging Tori.”