Terri-Lynne McClintic kidnapped eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford to settle a “drug debt,” then offered the child to her boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, before beating her to death, court heard.
This was the alternative theory on the Woodstock girl’s killing presented by Mr. Rafferty’s defence lawyer, Dirk Derstine, in his cross-examination of Ms. McClintic on Friday.
Ms. McClintic, 21, has admitted killing the girl, but has told Mr. Rafferty’s murder trial that he orchestrated the entire crime, ordering her to abduct a child off the street outside a public school and sexually assaulting Tori in the back seat of his car off a rural road.
But Mr. Derstine portrayed his client as little more than Ms. McClintic’s chauffeur that day.
“It was you who were making the decisions,” Mr. Derstine told Ms. McClintic, as his client watched from the glass-walled prisoner’s box.
Not true, she responded.
Mr. Derstine left many parts of the scenario vague, not explaining who owed the drug debt or how Ms. McClintic came to have the child in her possession.
The lawyer also painted Ms. McClintic as a dark individual capable of great violence and little remorse. He closed his cross-examination by describing two recent revelations she made earlier this year in conversations with her godmother, while incarcerated at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.
In the first, Ms. McClintic said she was only sad that she had killed Tori because of the girl’s age. Had it been an older person, she would “do it again,” he quoted her as saying.
In her second disclosure, Ms. McClintic confessed that as a child she had microwaved a small family dog until it screamed, leaving the animal so badly injured it had to be put down.
At the time, Ms. McClintic had lied, blaming the canine’s injuries on a neighbour’s dog, Mr. Derstine said. Her family never knew the truth.
“Nobody, apparently, could believe that you could be so cruel to such an innocent,” he said in conclusion to his cross-examination.
Also on Friday, court heard an audio recording of a police interview of Mr. Rafferty six weeks after Tori’s death, shortly before he was charged, which provided some of the first biographical details of the man to emerge.
He stands accused of first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. He has pleaded not guilty.
In the police interview, he said he had spent the previous year bouncing back and forth between Oakville – where he worked as a landscaper and construction contractor with his brother – and Woodstock.
He had lived with two different women during that time, and was now residing with his mother. In the interview, he talked about a third woman whom he had briefly dated and whose daughter was friends with Tori.
While he admitted knowing Ms. McClintic, he denied they were dating.
But the most dramatic testimony Friday happened earlier in the day, as Mr. Derstine grilled Ms. McClintic and sketched out his own version of events.
The young woman has testified that, after driving Tori away from her school, Mr. Rafferty stopped at a Tim Hortons in Guelph and walked away from the car. He also dropped Ms. McClintic at a nearby Home Depot, where she bought a hammer – the murder weapon – and garbage bags.
Why, Mr. Derstine asked her, did she not get help to save Tori’s life either time?
“In my mind, I believed I was not going to let anything bad happen,” she said. “That I could just go along … that I could just follow … let him talk, drive. … I wouldn’t let anything happen.”
Mr. Derstine rejected that assertion. Instead, he said, Ms. McClintic “offered” Tori to her boyfriend. When he refused the “gift,” she told him to drive to a rural side road north of Guelph.
There, Mr. Derstine alleged, Ms. McClintic told Mr. Rafferty she had to speak to Tori alone because the girl was afraid of him. Mr. Rafferty walked away and returned a short time later to find, to his horror, that Ms. McClintic had killed the child.
Ms. McClintic told him his scenario was simply not true.
On Friday afternoon, Ontario Provincial Police Detective Constable Colin Darmon told court about various parts of Woodstock Ms. McClintic had pointed out to investigators as they reconstructed events.
One was a townhouse next to Tori’s school, close to a home where the little girl herself had once lived. Mr. Rafferty had shown Ms. McClintic the house and told her it was the residence of a single mother with two children, he recounted.
The trial resumes Tuesday.