In the months before Tori Stafford was kidnapped and killed, Michael Rafferty, the man accused of her murder, performed Internet searches for “underage rape”, “real underage rape” and “real underage rape pictures,” according to a computer search conducted by police but never shown to the jury now deliberating in Rafferty’s trial.
Police also found evidence Rafferty possessed or accessed child pornography, had a penchant for violent sex and, days before the blond Stafford was killed, downloaded a Hollywood movie about the kidnapping of a young blond girl. None of that evidence made it to the jury either, however, as the judge in the case, Justice Thomas Heeney, ruled that it was either illegally obtained or would have been unduly prejudicial. (Read Blatchford in today’s Post for more on the judge’s pre-trial rulings.)
The jury was sequestered late Thursday afternoon. Rafferty stands charged with first-degree murder, abduction and sexual assault. Heeney, however, told the jurors they could also find Rafferty guilty of manslaughter or second-degree murder, depending on his level of involvement in the killing.