TORONTO – Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General will be picking up the tab for an appeal attempt by the man convicted of killing eight-year-old Victoria Stafford.
Michael Rafferty’s lawyer says he has again been turned down for funding from Legal Aid Ontario after a judge ordered last month that it reconsider Rafferty’s case.
Appeal Court Justice Marc Rosenberg had ruled the case is too complex for someone with a Grade 9 education in segregation and with no access to a law library to handle on his own.
Rafferty had been turned down four times by Legal Aid since his convictions in May 2012 for first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping in Tori’s death.
Rosenberg said if Rafferty was turned down again, the lawyer who represented him on the motion would be appointed for the appeal and he would be paid by the attorney general.
Lawyer Paul Calarco says the case is proceeding, but could not comment further as the issue is before the courts.
Rafferty’s trial heard that he and his former girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, lured Tori from her school in Woodstock, Ont., and drove to a secluded field, where the Grade 3 student was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten to death in April 2009.
Calarco argued at the Appeal Court last month that one ground for Rafferty’s appeal is that the jury should have considered that he might have been only an accessory after the fact to Tori’s brutal murder.
Rosenberg wrote that he agreed with Calarco, saying, “it appears that the trial judge’s instructions on the issue were deficient.”
Calarco also raised two errors he said the trial judge made in dealing with McClintic’s conflicting evidence, arguments Rosenberg found are complex and novel enough to require a lawyer.
Rafferty is serving his life sentence at an institution in Quebec. McClintic is also serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.