Rafferty declines to take stand at Victoria Stafford murder trial

A man accused in the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford will not take the stand as his defence lawyer opened and closed his case today with one brief witness.

LONDON, Ont. — A man accused in the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford will not take the stand as his defence lawyer opened and closed his case today with one brief witness.

The Crown wrapped up its case against Michael Rafferty last week, and today the defence called one witness who was one of the last people to see Tori alive.

The woman, whose name can’t be published, picked her grandchildren up from school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009, the day Tori was abducted.

She says she saw a woman matching Terri-Lynne McClintic’s description go into the school, then later she saw her walking away with Tori, as seen on surveillance video.

McClintic, who has admitted abducting Tori and has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, testified at Rafferty’s trial that Rafferty urged her to kidnap a young girl, and that she chose Tori because she spotted her outside the school all alone.

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping in Tori’s death.

The woman testified that she believed the woman in a white coat who went into the school was the same woman she saw walking with Tori, and that she was walking quickly with a “stern” look on her face.

“(She) seemed like she was on a mission,” the woman testified. “The little girl that was with her was happy, skipping, talking a mile a minute…I assumed the person that she was talking to might have been her mother.”

Crown attorney Michael Carnegie questioned the woman’s memory of the events of that day at length under cross-examination, specifically her recollection of the woman going into the school versus the woman walking with Tori.

Carnegie noted that when she saw the woman and the girl walking along the road outside the school it was a “fleeting glance” as she drove past.