Michael Rafferty guilty in murder of Tori Stafford
Published Friday, May 11, 2012 11:18PM EDT
Michael Rafferty has been found guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of Victoria Stafford, more than three years after the young girl was abducted from her schoolyard and brutally killed.
Rafferty, 31, was also found guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm.
He will be sentenced Tuesday. Family members will also read victim impact statements at that time.
Rafferty had no reaction as the charges were read. He stood silent, looking at the court's foreman.
One female juror started crying as the charges were read out.
Meanwhile, spectators in the courtroom, including members of Victoria's family, cried and hugged. Some pumped their fists in the air and clapped as the charges were read out.
Tara McDonald, Victoria's mother, stood up and hugged her 14-year-old son, Darin, before leaving the court.
Rafferty took off his tie and unbuttoned his shirt before being led out of the court.
Victoria's father, Rodney Stafford, spoke to reporters outside the court about his reaction when he heard the guilty charges read.
"I wanted to scream something in the courtroom, but just couldn't do it," he said. "I was happy, excited, but at the same time there was a sense of loss because Tori's not coming home."
Victoria's grandmother Doreen Graichen stood by her son, Rodney, thanking members of the Crown for their efforts.
"It makes me feel like I can breathe again," Graichen said. "Tori has justice, and that's all we ever wanted."
Outside the court, Victoria's uncle, Mark Perry, clutched the last photo taken of Victoria before her murder. He said it was now time for the family and the citizens of Woodstock to heal.
"We're glad it's over but we still got a lot of healing to do," Perry said.
Jim McDonald, Victoria's grandfather, told CP24 that he hugged members of the jury after the verdict was read out.
"They're a great bunch of people," he said. "It was just fantastic, it was just like someone lifted something right off our shoulders."
While Rafferty showed little emotion, his defence lawyer Dirk Derstine said he thinks his client deserved a fair trial, no matter what the charges against him were.
"The reality of it is, everyone in our system deserves a strong proper and effective defence," Derstine said. "It's easy enough to say just because we empathize with a child, and who could not empathize with a child, and who could not empathize with the family, but on the other hand, Michael Rafferty is somebody's child too."
Derstine said it's still too early to talk about an appeal.
Throughout the trial, the Crown maintained that Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic, his former girlfriend, kidnapped eight-year-old Tori outside her school in Woodstock, Ont., then drove her to an isolated area where she was raped and killed with a hammer in April 2009.
McClintic, who already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Tori's death, was one of the key witnesses in Rafferty's trial.
What the jury did not hear during the lengthy trial that began earlier this year was that when Rafferty was arrested outside a Woodstock, Ont., health club in May 2009, police seized his car and inside it was his BlackBerry as well as a laptop.
Police eventually got a warrant to search the Honda Civic, but a separate warrant for the electronics was never requested.
During a pre-trial hearing, Justice Heeney threw out any evidence found on the computer and phone, noting that the police conduct was "careless."
Police also found an Internet search history on Rafferty's laptop showing that it was used to make several queries about underage rape in the months before Tori was abducted and killed.
A forensic search also showed that the movie "Karla," a re-telling of the school-girl murders committed by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka in the early 1990s, was also accessed on the laptop.
Another laptop hard-drive, found in a plastic bag behind a dresser in Rafferty's Woodstock home, which contained child pornography, was also ruled "inadmissible" because there wasn't a proper search warrant.