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Michael Rafferty appeal stuns Tori Stafford’s grandmother

Randy Richmond, QMI Agency

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LONDON, ONT. - 

The grandmother of eight-year-old Victoria “Tori” Stafford reacted with disbelief, but determination as well, Thursday at learning the girl’s killer is appealing his first-degree murder conviction.

“Oh my God. Are you serious? I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know what to think of it,” Doreen Graichen said when told Michael Rafferty, 31, is appealing his conviction on grounds the judge had failed to properly instruct the jury.

“Here we go again, the emotional roller-coaster,” Graichen said, then added she was determined not to let this last stage of the case overrun her life as it has for three years.

“I’m not going to fret about it until there is something to fret about. I feel like I’ve got everything in a place where I can move on. I’m not going to get upset until I know what happens with an appeal.”

Tori’s family had no idea Rafferty, sentenced to life in prison, had filed an appeal until several media outlets reported it Thursday.

“I thought the deadline had passed,” Graichen said.

On May 11, a jury found Rafferty guilty of the April 8, 2009, kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of Tori, who disappeared while walking home from her Woodstock, Ont., school.

When his 30-day deadline for appealing that conviction passed, many media reported Rafferty had decided not to appeal.

However, Ontario Court of Appeal officials explained to QMI Agency at the time that prisoners could apply for extensions of the appeal period.

Rafferty’s trial lawyer, Dirk Derstine, said in June he would not be handling any appeal.

randy.richmond@sunmedia.ca