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Mandel

McClintic was puppetmaster: defence

By Michele Mandel, Toronto Sun

LONDON, ONT. - 

The graphic lyrics of a death rap song filled the staid courtroom.

"Stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stab you to death," sang Necro in Creepy Crawl, one of Terri-Lynn McClintic's favourite songs. "Face down on the bed, pillow case over ya head. Lamp chord choked, leave everyone in the place dead..."

With dramatic flourish, defence lawyer Dirk Derstine then paused the shocking music.

"Is that the song that was playing on your iPod when you walked up to Oliver Stephens Public School that day?" he asked the young woman who lured little Tori Stafford to her death.

Derstine would like the jury to believe that McClintic was the puppetmaster, that she was such a violent, drug-snorting, gangsta rapping toughie that she was the one who orchestrated the abduction and slaying of the eight-year-old Woodstock, Ont., girl, and not her ex-boyfriend Michael Rafferty, now on trial for first-degree murder.

"When can we expect that you will be able to tell us that you did more than just kill her? That, in fact, I'm going to suggest to you, that you were the engine that drove the events of that day," charged Rafferty's lawyer.

"That will never happen because that is not the truth," a combative McClintic hotly replied. "I'm not the only guilty party here."

The Crown's key witness has owned up to what she did, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, has admitted to a long criminal record that includes stabbing a stranger and leaving her mother partially blind in her left eye. But despite the insistent suggestions of her ex-boyfriend's lawyer, she will not absolve Rafferty for what she says was his powerful role in planning and executing their horrific crime.

"I was just doing what I was told to do," said McClintic, 21.

"What you chose to do," corrected Derstine.

"What I was told to do," she repeated. "I do have a mind of my own but unfortunately I tend to be influenced very easily by other people and when you have a manipulative person that is willing to take everything they know about you and use it against you, your triggers to push your buttons, they know what to say."

As she spoke, Rafferty, 31, wore his usual smirk and shook his head.

"When I woke up April 8 (2009), I never had murder on my mind. I did not plan on kidnapping a little girl," she said, her wavering voice thick with disgust and regret. "When I walked down that street with that little girl, I did not think I was walking her to her death and I sure as hell didn't think it would be my hands that would take her life."

McClintic maintained that it took her until January of this year -- 19 months into her sentence -- to finally admit to herself that she was the one who wielded the hammer, and not Rafferty, as she'd originally told police. "Now I have come to terms with that and I'm sitting here today, telling the truth."

And her truth is that while she snapped and did the killing, it was Rafferty who had ordered a little girl, and he then repeatedly raped Tori and helped dispose of her body.

Derstine, though, cast McClintic as a "good liar" who repeatedly lied to police in the past and continues to lie to this day. He played the videotape of her early statements to investigators, where she laughs easily and insists she's not the woman in white seen leading Tori away. He accused her of deliberately trying to deflect blame by telling them she'd heard Tori's mother had a $20,000 cocaine debt. And he suggested McClintic knew Tori and specifically targeted her out of the 326 students who emerged from school that day.

Once again, she refused to agree. "She was the only one that was alone," she said.

"And yet it just happened that you knew her parents?" he demanded. "And as you spoke to her about her dog, her shih tzu and your shih tzu, that was just a coincidence, just a crazy coincidence?"

"Yes, it was," McClintic maintained.

Her grilling continues Friday.