Warning: This story contains graphic details
In a period of less than six months, Michael Rafferty was given more than $16,000 by a woman who worked as a prostitute, his murder trial heard Friday.
At regular intervals, the payments were made into his Bank of Montreal bank account by prosecution witness Charity Spitzig, 26, a mother of five, who testified that on the day Victoria (Tori) Stafford was abducted and murdered, she deposited a total of $500.
And in evidence from another of the many women Mr. Rafferty befriended online, Elysia Haid, the jury was told that less than 24 hours after he allegedly raped and beat to death the eight-year-old Woodstock girl with a hammer, he and Ms. Haid had sex at his house.
The twin admissions were a double setback for defence lawyer Dirk Derstine, who contends that his client neither killed nor sexually assaulted Tori.
Rather, Mr. Derstine is making the case that the real murderer is co-accused and former girlfriend Terri-Lynne McClintic, and that Mr. Rafferty was merely a reluctant, horrified participant in events that she engineered.
However, Ms. Haid’s testimony about having sex with Mr. Rafferty and driving around with him on April 9, 2009, one day after Tori was abducted, may have left the impression that he was not as distressed about the child’s death as Mr. Derstine suggests.
Trial judge Thomas Heeney cautioned the jury that while the two women’s evidence may have led them to conclude the defendant was “a philandering cad, or worse,” Mr. Rafferty’s lifestyle has no bearing on his guilt or innocence.
More than a dozen women have told the trial they met Mr. Rafferty via the Vancouver-based dating website PlentyofFish.com, and several have said they believed they had an “exclusive” relationship with him.
Among them was Ms. Spitzig, who told prosecutor Kevin Gowdey Friday that she first encountered him in April, 2008, and that their future together appeared “promising,” and perhaps would lead to marriage and a family.
Together they discussed her becoming an “escort,” she said, and that’s what took place.
Commencing in December, 2008, she began funnelling cash into his bank account, and by the time he was charged with Tori’s murder, in May, 2009, she had parted with a total of $16,835.
Her admission that she was a prostitute and was giving Mr. Rafferty money – a fact not prompted by Mr. Gowdey, but rather seemed to be something Ms. Spitzig was anxious to tell the court – helps answer a question that has been hanging over the trial since its outset: the defendant’s source of income.
He was seeing at least three other women at the time, the jury has heard, and as with the others, he told Ms. Spitzig he was a dance instructor and a contractor.
As for the timing of his sexual liaison with Ms. Haid, 23, the witness said she was certain it took place April 9, and that she remembered the date clearly because she skipped college in Sarnia that day.
Mr. Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault causing bodily harm in the death of Tori, who was kidnapped and killed in April, 2009.
Two years ago, Ms. McClintic, now 21, confessed to murdering the girl and is serving life imprisonment at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.
Since being convicted she has altered her account of events in one key regard.
She told the trial that Mr. Rafferty raped Tori, drove the trio to the crime scene and helped conceal the body, but that it was she who wielded the murder weapon – a claw-head hammer bought in Guelph en route to the secluded, wooded crime scene, just south of Mount Forest.
The trial resumes Tuesday.