Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

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Normal Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:20 pm

By Mike Clary, Sun Sentinel

6:00 p.m. EDT, September 11, 2011
MIAMI—
Rilya Wilson is still missing.
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The foster child's disappearance in 2000, and the uproar after its belated discovery, led to sweeping changes in the state's child welfare system. But no one knows for certain whether the chubby-cheeked 4-year-old fixed forever in a single official photograph is alive or dead.

Next month Rilya's onetime caregiver, accused of kidnapping, abusing and smothering her, is scheduled to stand trial in an oft-delayed case that poses the ultimate challenge for prosecutors.

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"In a homicide case, generally there is a body, and there is not one here," said attorney Scott Sakin, who is defending the caregiver, Geralyn Graham.

When Graham was indicted by a Miami-Dade grand jury in March 2005 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.

But at a hearing earlier this year, they quietly abandoned that quest, opting instead to ask for life in prison. While confirming the decision, State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez said last week that she could not elaborate.

Asked if the absence of a body led to the decision, Chavez responded, "There are always many factors that come into play when putting together a complex homicide case such as this one. Choices and decisions are based on an overall understanding of the case, not on any single issue."

Sakin said the state's dropping the death penalty shows "there are no aggravating factors, no body, no evidence of how she might have died."

However difficult the prosecution's task, the trial is expected to feature sensational details and colorful witnesses. It will throw a spotlight on the Department of Children & Families months after another highly publicized failure.

The allegations of abuse and caseworker inattention are similar to those leveled after the death of Nubia Barahona. In February the 10-year-old Miami girl was found dead in the back of her adoptive father's truck parked alongside Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County.

Jorge Barahona and his wife, Carmen, face murder charges in that case and, if they are convicted, the death penalty.

"Two precious lives were lost, and in both cases that did not need to be," said David Lawrence, a former newspaper publisher who led panels that examined the actions of the state's child protection agency in both cases.

Speaking of Rilya Wilson, Lawrence said, "Shame on us if we cannot get justice for this little girl."

Born to a drug-addicted mother, Rilya was placed in a foster home in the care of Pamela Graham. Geralyn Graham, no relation, lived with her in Kendall.

Over the years, news reports, court documents and an investigation into Rilya's disappearance have included allegations that she was tied to a bed and locked in a small laundry room, kept in a dog cage, and often bore bruises, scratches and other injuries.

The indictment alleges that Rilya was either suffocated or beaten to death sometime in December 2000.

When Graham was indicted by a grand jury in March 2005, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, "she basically broke down and told someone in the jail details about Rilya Wilson, including how she killed her."

That someone is believed to be career criminal Robin Lunceford, 48, who once shared a holding cell with Graham.

Lunceford told prosecutors that Graham admitted smothering Rilya with a pillow because the child insisted on wearing an "evil" Cleopatra costume instead of dressing as an angel for Halloween.

Graham said she buried Rilya's body near a lake, Lunceford told investigators.

"She was in a whisper voice, like she couldn't say it loud, she just said it like, whispered to me, 'I killed it,"' Lunceford told prosecutors in a sworn statement.

Though she received a life sentence in 2005, this March Lunceford's sentence was reduced to 10 years. In exchange she agreed to cooperate in the Graham prosecution.

Surveillance Video: Surveillance video released in Natalie Belmonte murder case

"I expect she will be called to testify," Lunceford's attorney, Jon May, said on Thursday.

Graham, now 65, has denied harming the child. She told investigators that the last time she saw Rilya was in January 2001, when a woman claiming to be from the DCF took the girl for a medical exam.

But DCF workers did not learn that Rilya was missing until April 2002.

Shortly after Rilya's disappearance, Geralyn Graham was arrested on unrelated charges. Convicted of using a friend's Social Security number to buy a sport utility vehicle, she has been in jail ever since.

In May 2007, Graham wrote a letter to the presiding judge, saying, "I realize that I am charged with the most heinous of crimes.

"I also know it's all hearsay, and I've never hurt a soul in my life. I've been guilty until proven innocent and that's not the American way."

After Rilya's disappearance, DCF director Kathleen Kearney resigned, and several reforms were launched. Among them was a Missing Child Tracking System that links the agency to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The Legislature also passed a law that makes it a crime to falsify records of visitations between DCF workers and children in the system.

The Rilya Wilson case prompted reforms, but children still get lost in the DCF system.

Some, like Nubia Barahona, have ended up dead.

Sakin, Graham's lawyer, said he believes Rilya is alive. "Law enforcement should be looking for her," he said.

Lawrence, head of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, said he keeps a picture of Rilya Wilson in his office as a reminder of his mission.

"You know, Rilya stands for Remember I Love You Always," he said. "What tragic irony that was, because as far as I can see, she was never loved."

The trial is scheduled to start on Oct. 11 before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Bertila Soto.

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:25 pm

Rilya Wilson was a foster child of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the centerpoint of an investigation into neglect and mismanagement in the organization. She was approximately four years old when she disappeared in 2000. DCF did not discover her disappearance until two years later, when she was not found living at the home of caretaker Geralyn Graham. Graham is suspected by prosecutors to have murdered Wilson, but only circumstantial evidence has been presented. Graham was later jailed for identity fraud and Medicaid fraud for accepting payments on behalf of Wilson after she was missing. The two caretakers claimed that a DCF worker had taken the child for medical testing and never returned. Authorities denied that any state worker had ever taken Wilson for medical testing.

The fiasco later prompted the resignation of the DCF chief and passage of a new law requiring tracking of efforts to find missing children and improved supervision of foster children.

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:33 pm

Where is Rilya Wilson?
State of Florida loses child, doesn't notice for 16 months
Posted: May 17, 2002
1:00 am Eastern

By H.P. Albarelli Jr.

It's a bureaucratic nightmare beyond comprehension: How a state social services agency could lose a 4-year-old girl and for 16 months fail to notice or report the incident.

That's the case of Rilya Wilson, who was lost by the state of Florida and whose whereabouts, despite national media coverage of the incident, are still a mystery.

Rilya vanished sometime in January 2001. Given the strange circumstances, nobody is sure of the exact date. At the time, Rilya – whose name reportedly stands for "Remember, I love you always" – was living in the home of sisters Geralyn and Pamela Graham. Geralyn Graham has been reported to be Rilya's paternal grandmother. Florida's Department of Children and Families had placed Rilya in the Graham home as part of its foster care system.

Rilya was born on Sept. 29, 1996. Her mother, Gloria Wilson, was homeless and addicted to crack cocaine. Rilya's alleged father is said to be a habitual criminal. Rilya was Gloria's second child. Gloria's first child had already been taken away from her by the state of Florida.

Two years after Rilya was born, Gloria Wilson had another baby that the state also took from her. That baby was placed in the home of Geralyn Graham, who says she is the mother of Rilya's father.

In April 2000, Graham requested that Florida's Department of Children and Families, or DCF, also place Rilya in her Miami home. She said she wanted to legally adopt Rilya. At the time, Rilya was being raised in another Miami home by the daughter of a 78-year-old woman who had befriended and was attempting to help Gloria Wilson.

DCF complied with Graham's request, despite that issues had been raised about the true identity of Rilya's father. Florida officials, who declined to speak on the record, say that at least "two men claim to be Rilya's father" but that "no DNA tests have been conducted to resolve the confusion yet." Graham told the Miami Herald two weeks ago that her son "has 14 other children by several different women." Graham has also stated that she "never signed" any paperwork before or after Rilya was placed in her home.

According to a May 12 Associated Press story by Allen G. Breed, not long after Rilya was placed in the Graham home, Graham complained to several DCF employees that Rilya was "acting very weird."

Graham also called Rilya's social worker, Deborah Muskelly, to make the same complaint. A short while later, according to Graham, in early January 2001, a woman knocked on her door and, speaking with a foreign accent, explained that she had come to pick up Rilya for a "psychiatric examination."

It is not clear if the unnamed woman showed Graham any identification credentials or documents. However, Graham told the Miami Herald that the woman "knew all about Rilya and Muskelly." Strangely, the Miami Herald reported that Graham called Muskelly a month after Rilya was taken and asked when the girl was going to be returned to her home. Graham told the newspaper that Muskelly said, "Don't worry. … The child will come back to you."

Rilya has not been seen, or heard from, since the day the mysterious woman picked her up, and nobody claims to know where she is. The May 12 Associated Press article states, "Graham ... said she had continued receiving and cashing checks – more than $1,600 in all – for Rilya's care during her absence, saying DCF had told her to."

Eight months after Rilya's disappearance, in August 2001, with still no sign of or word from Rilya – and no reports to anyone that she was missing – Muskelly, according to the Miami Herald, was filing reports indicating that she had routinely visited the Graham home and that Rilya's "needs were being met."

Last month, after DCF officials became aware that something was terribly wrong with Rilya Wilson's case, they waited at least a week before notifying police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, despite that their own regulations require them to do so within "three working days."


Internal DCF e-mails obtained by the Herald reveal a chilling picture of bureaucratic ineptitude. One administrator wrote, "This one scares me." Another message to Muskelly's supervisor read: "When are you going to notify law enforcement that the child is missing?" Another close assistant to DCF's top administrator wrote, "... just keep remembering, it can always be worse."

After DCF noticed that Rilya had vanished, officials also became aware that employee Muskelly had "falsified client visit records and case documents." DCF officials say there was "no way to know sooner."

According to the Herald, "district DCF chief Charles Auslander said last week that January 2001 was the last entry by Muskelly in Rilya's case file."

Auslander additionally said that Muskelly – who was allowed to resign from her DCF position on March 20 or "face termination for filing falsified documents" – reported several times to a circuit court judge overseeing Rilya's custody that the little girl was "safe and being well cared for" during the months that she was actually missing. Others within DCF maintain that Muskelly obtained "advance signatures on reports confirming visits" to Rilya – meaning that Muskelly likely had several or more blank forms signed in advance of home visits that never occurred.

According to DCF records and supervisory officials, Muskelly was less than an exemplary employee. Officials say that she was demoted at least twice during her 17-year career with the agency. DCF spokeswoman LeNedra Carroll said that Muskelly's supervisors had "numerous concerns" about her job performance.

Muskelly, according to the Miami-Dade state's attorney's office, is now the subject of a criminal investigation. A spokesman for that office said yesterday, "It is not inconceivable that others may be added to the list."

DCF caseworkers, who refused to be identified for this article out of fears of "being fired," said that supervisory problems within the agency are "endemic." Said one worker, "Managers here pretty much do what they want without any guidance from above. There's not much sense of mission or urgency on anything." Another worker said that DCF supervisors "dropped the ball on Rilya's case long before Muskelly messed it up."

A Naples Daily News article this week by Catherine Wilson said, "Some outsiders suggested a 'bunker mentality' exists among [DCF] rank-and-file workers."

As might be expected in a state where politics seem to line every cloud and ray of sunshine, Rilya's disappearance has become an issue in Florida's gubernatorial campaign.

Last week, gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said at a campaign stop that the state "has to do more" to prevent children like Rilya from ever having to enter the state's system to begin with. Quipped one observer, referring to the 1993 Waco siege, "This from a woman who ordered tanks into a building full of innocent children?"

Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, has come under heavy fire for what has become widely known as the "Rilya matter." People close to Bush say that he was "initially very angered about the case" but has since "been convinced that it is an aberration" in an agency that was "just beginning to get its act together." Bush composed a blue-ribbon investigatory committee almost immediately after he learned of Rilya's disappearance. The committee is charged with making recommendations on fixing persistent problems within DCF. Its report is due at the end of the month.

Last week, Bush said he "still has confidence in Kathleen Kearney," the secretary of the Department of Children and Families. Kearney, a political appointee who was formerly a juvenile court judge, has rejected sporadic calls for her resignation, saying that Rilya's social worker bears the blame in the case. Meanwhile, some DCF workers have privately complained that Kearney is "too far removed from the day-to-day realities of this agency" and that "she has no experience in managing a workplace and budget this large."

On Tuesday, Florida newspapers revealed that Rilya's assumed paternal grandmother, Geralyn Graham, has used "at least 33 aliases" and that "lawyers [in unrelated civil cases] have questioned whether she was a con artist or severely mentally impaired."

A May 15 report in the St. Petersburg Times stated, "Florida's child-welfare agency [DCF] has said it didn't know Rilya Wilson's caretaker used numerous aliases before [Rilya] was placed in her home. ... But Geralyn Graham's bogus names were contained in a court subpoena served on [DCF] as part of a personal-injury lawsuit involving Graham." The subpoena was served on DCF officials six months before Rilya was placed in Graham's home.

Last weekend, the mystery of Rilya Wilson's disappearance was featured on "America's Most Wanted" television show. Florida law-enforcement officials were hopeful that the show would "produce leads about this little girl's whereabouts" but now report that "nothing of any value was generated."

Meanwhile, Rilya Wilson is gone, and the days are ticking away.

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Post by Wrapitup on Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:39 pm

Who Lost Rilya Wilson?

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 7, 2002. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.

Watch On the Record every weeknight at 10 p.m. ET!

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: More twists in the case of a missing 5-year-old who vanished a year ago without any notice.

Florida State welfare officials are taking the heat for falsifying documents and losing Rilya Wilson, but now there are questions about the woman who says she's Rilya's grandmother. Geralyn Graham claims Rilya was taken out of her home by child welfare officials back in January of 2001. But why did her sister have custody? And if her son is really his father, as she says, who is this jailed inmate who's claiming to be the father? Joining us from Miami, the attorney representing Geralyn Graham and her sister Pam, Ed Shoat.

Also with us is Carol Marvin Miller who's covering the story for the Miami Herald. Ed, first to you, what is going on with your client? Was the child supposed to be in her custody or not?

ED SHOAT, ATTORNEY: The child was in her custody and in the custody of her sister, Pamela Graham.

VAN SUSTEREN: Had there been a court order that said the two have joint custody of this child?

SHOAT: No, there was no court order for Rilya, the missing child. There was a court order for the Rodericka, the younger of the two children that placed the child in the custody of Pamela Graham. Pamela Graham was in a pre-adoptive status and was going to adopt both children.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, skip her because I'm interested in the missing child because I must tell you, Ed, and I don't want you to necessarily take the heat from me for this, but it is beyond me how the state of Florida or a grandmother could lose a child, a 5-year-old child. I mean, who was supposed to have custody of this child by law?

SHOAT: Well, you can't skip over that, Greta, because the grandmother didn't lose the child. The welfare system, the dependency system lost the child.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right Carol, to you. The judge down there is very upset, is she not?

CAROL MARBIN MILLER, MIAMI HERALD: Yes, she is.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened in court?

MARBIN MILLER: Yesterday the judge demanded that Department of Children and Families explain what happened to Rilya Wilson. The department's senior lawyer in Miami indeed confirmed that Rilya disappeared from state custody, perhaps as early as January 2001. The judge also asked the department to explain why Rilya's sister, Rodericka, was removed from the Graham's home a week ago and where she is now. The department declined, indeed refused to answer that question, which is sort of symptomatic of a persistent problem here. The department has resisted efforts among judges, advocates...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: You know it's even worse than that, Carol, at least from what I've read is that this judge was lied to by the caseworker, that the caseworker said she was checking on this child and then signed documents and she was not. Am I right or am I wrong on that?

MARBIN MILLER: We reported a week ago that according to the court docket, this caseworker appeared before Judge Cindy Lederman on more than one occasion and filed status reports on these children to the judge that indicated Rilya was in her placement, that she was safe and well cared for, and that the Grahams were a pre-adoptive home and wished to adopt her permanently.

SHOAT: Greta, no caseworker was in my client's house from January of 2001 when the child went missing.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know Ed, I'm a lawyer, and we just saw pictures of how heated that Judge is, and you know I assume that someone is going to end up in the slammer for this one for lying to...

(CROSSTALK)

SHOAT: I hope you're showing pictures of the child too because we want to find this child, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, I understand that the police are now looking at this case as a possible homicide. Do you have any information on that?

SHOAT: That's correct. I think that's what they are looking at it as, because they have no other information. They don't have any information that it is a homicide, but the police have to be allowed to do their work and they should be looking at every possible angle. My client has spent untold hours with the police already, not only giving her version, but going through photographs of DCF Workers, that's the state agency and looking to see if she...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Carol, I know that Ed can't make this comment about his own client, but you can tell me, perhaps, is the grandmother considered a suspect in an investigation?

MARBIN MILLER: I don't know the answer to that. I think the police have said that at this point they have no idea what happened to this child. They don't know whether she is precious Doe, the 5-year-old who was decapitated in Kansas City. They don't know whether she was abducted and is alive and well somewhere else. I think they probably are taking the position that everybody is a suspect and nobody is a suspect.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, thank you both very much, appreciate you joining me tonight, a very troubling case.

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Post by Wrapitup on Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:40 pm

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Normal Trial Delayed Again in Rilya Wilson Murder Case, Geralyn Graham former caretaker charged with murder

Post by raine1953 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:00 pm

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The delays continue in the murder trial of a woman accused in the case of missing South Florida foster child Rilya Wilson, who disappeared over a decade ago.

Tuesday, a Miami-Dade County judge set a new July 23rd trial date for Rilya’s former caretaker Geralyn Graham. The trial had been set to begin March 26.
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Normal Jury Selection To Continue Tuesday In Rilya Wilson Murder Trial

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:46 pm

November 6, 2012 10:34 AM

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Jury selection resumes Tuesday in the trial of a caregiver accused of killing a foster child left in her care.

Geralyn Graham, 66, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case of Rilya Wilson and has written letters to judges insisting she is innocent. She faces life in prison if convicted.

Jury selection is expected to last about two months.

Last September, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler-Mendez denied defense motions seeking to toss out a purported confession by Graham because she did not have a lawyer present when she reportedly made the statements. Judge Tinkler-Mendez also ruled that she will allow statements Graham made to a police detective.

In addition to first-degree murder, Graham is also facing kidnapping and child abuse charges.

Prosecutors are relying heavily on testimony from jail inmates including Robin Lunceford who claimed Graham confessed to them that she smothered the child and disposed of the body near a lake.

Lunceford will be a key prosecution witness.


“It is always problematic for the government when it has to build a case on jailhouse snitches,” said Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University who has followed the case over the years. “In the end, the government may lose, particularly if Graham can present a reasonable alternative explanation for Rilya’s disappearance.”

Rilya Wilson was a 4-year-old foster child who disappeared in late 2000 and has never been found.
Rilya’s disappearance wasn’t noticed by state child welfare officials for 15 months. Her body has never been found.

An investigation showed that a DCF caseworker, Deborah Muskelly, did not make required monthly visits to the Grahams’ home for more than a year, even though she was filing reports and telling judges the girl was fine. Muskelly was eventually placed on five years’ probation after pleading guilty to official misconduct for falsifying time sheets.

The case had far broader ramifications, leading to the resignation of then-DCF director Kathleen Kearney and launching of several reforms.

Caseworkers are now required to visit a child monthly and carry GPS units that stamp a date and location to make sure every child is accounted for. But it wasn’t until last July that caseworkers were required to go beyond simply taking a picture at those visits and get critical updates about how the child is doing in school, whether they have any medical concerns or how they are faring socially in the home.

State lawmakers also made it illegal to falsify records of visits between child welfare workers and children in the agency’s care.

Graham faces life in prison if convicted in the little girl’s slaying.

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Post by Wrapitup on Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:33 am

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Post by Wrapitup on Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:36 pm

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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:27 am

Woman thought girl was 'evil:' Prosecutor

Published: Nov. 27, 2012 at 1:18 PM

MIAMI, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The Miami woman charged in the disappearance of a 5-year-old girl more than a decade ago thought "the child had demons and was evil," a prosecutor says.

The comments from Joshua Weintraub came Monday in the first day of trial for Geralyn Graham, 66, the Miami Herald reported.

Graham was the state-appointed foster mother of Rilya Wilson when the girl disappeared in 2001. The girl's body has never been found.

Graham is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse.

Weintraub told jurors Graham hated the girl, restraining her with "flex cuffs" inside a dog crate.

"She thought, after eight months, the child had demons and was evil," the prosecutor said in his opening remarks.

Defense attorney Scott Sakin put the blame on Florida's child welfare agency, which had placed Rilya in Graham's care.

Without Rilya's body, prosecutors can't even prove that she's dead, Sakin said.

Rilya's disappearance created a tsunami of criticism for the child protection agency. The girl's disappearance was not noticed until April 2002 because her case worker created false reports that indicated he had made regular home visits.

Publicity about the case led to a series of reforms at the agency and legislative changes.

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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:55 am

Gloria Fletcher: Lessons to be learned from Wilson case

By Gloria Fletcher
November 30, 2012

Ten years after the disappearance of little Rilya Wilson, what have Floridians learned about her fate as well as the future of others in the state's child welfare system?

What do we know about the system itself, and whether reforms have made kids any more safe?

It's hard to say what we've learned. As the first-degree murder trial of Rilya's caretaker, Geralyn Graham, gets underway in Miami, too many questions linger about Rilya, Graham and the Department of Children and Families.

The State Attorney's office will plead its case for charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse against Graham, who in 2000 brought the 4-year-old little girl into her home as a foster child. The trial will likely take several weeks for the state to demonstrate to the jury how Graham committed the crimes for which she is charged.

But the case for Rilya goes much deeper. For it wasn't until 2002 — after an entire year had passed since a caseworker for the Department had last checked on Rilya — that the state realized she was no longer in Graham's home. Graham has maintained her innocence since her arrest in 2005, claiming a child welfare worker removed the child from her home.


If she were still alive, Rilya would be 16. But what happened to Rilya, whose name is an acronym for "Remember I love you always," may never be known. Her body has never been found.

This case demands answers. What happens from here is critical. Society needs closure on this case, thus the outcome of the Graham trial is key for the process to begin. A first-degree murder conviction will send a message loud and clear to those in our society who choose to harm the most vulnerable among us.

What's more important, though, will not be answered by this case. The fundamental question is how did DCF lose track of Rilya for a year, and will sweeping reforms at DCF protect foster children in the future from similar tragedies?

We can only hope. Foster child advocates also can only hope the lessons and reforms last a lifetime.

Gloria Fletcher is an attorney in Gainesville and vice president of Florida's Children First.

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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:57 am

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Post by spayneuteryourpets on Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:28 pm

I doubt she will be convicted. All they have is a jailhouse snitch who has had her sentence of life in prison downgraded to 10 years for her testimony.
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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:53 pm

I agree but hope we are both wrong.

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Post by Wrapitup on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:21 am

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Post by Wrapitup on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:26 am

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Post by Wrapitup on Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:03 pm

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Post by spayneuteryourpets on Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:36 pm

Great article. Thanks. Whatever happened to the social worker who lied on the child's records?
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Post by Wrapitup on Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:00 pm

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Post by Wrapitup on Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:45 am

Key Witness Takes Stand In Case Of Rilya Wilson’s Death

December 4, 2012 11:00 AM

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A former DCF caseworker, at the center of the Rilya Wilson case, has taken the stand at the trial of Geralyn Graham. Graham was Rilya Wilson’s caregiver, now on trial for killing the foster child more than a decade ago, even though her body has never been found.

Deborah Muskelly took the stand Tuesday morning. Muskelly is a key witness in the case. An investigation showed Muskelly did not make required monthly visits to the Grahams’ home for more than a year, even though she was filing reports and telling judges the girl was fine. Muskelly was eventually placed on five years’ probation after pleading guilty to official misconduct for falsifying time sheets.


Muskelly testified Tuesday that Rilya was happy when she was with her foster parent Pamela Kendrick but the girl was moved to Graham’s house over her objections. She claimed Graham persuaded retired DCF supervisor Willie Harris to move Rilya to her home so she could be with her younger sister Rodericka, who was already under Graham’s care.

However, Harris testified last week that he removed Rilya from the Kendrick home after Graham called DCF to report Rilya was being kept in filthy conditions and Kendrick refused to allow him to inspect her house.
WHY didn't she get a "court order"???? Rhetorical question.

Muskelly also told the jury that she never saw Graham display any affection toward Rilya and never complained about behavior problems she claims the girl had.

Other witnesses have already testified that they saw possible signs of abuse on the girl but none have testified they saw Graham harm the child.

One witness, Detra Coakley Winfield, testified she loaned Graham and her lover Pamela Graham a dog cage to keep Wilson “safe” in but never saw the girl inside it.

Winfield said she didn’t remember seeing Rilya after Christmas 2000.

Authorities long suspected caretaker Graham in Rilya’s disappearance, but didn’t charge her until 2005 when prosecutors said she confessed to inmate and jailhouse snitch Robin Lunceford while serving time on an unrelated fraud charge.

Lunceford is expected to testify that Graham told her she killed Rilya because the little girl was evil.

Pamela Graham is also expected to testify as per a plea deal with prosecutors that will likely allow her to avoid jail.

Graham faces a life prison sentence if convicted.

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Post by Wrapitup on Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:35 pm

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This is a must-see!

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Post by Wrapitup on Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:38 pm

Worker falsely claimed visits to Fla. foster girl

Published: December 4, 2012

By CURT ANDERSON — AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI — A former Florida child welfare caseworker testified Tuesday that she falsified reports showing in-person visits to the home of a foster girl who disappeared a decade ago and often used telephone calls rather than coming to the home.

Deborah Muskelly, a former Department of Children and Families caseworker, said she turned in travel vouchers for face-to-face visits for months after authorities say 4-year-old Rilya Wilson went missing in late 2000. Muskelly testified in the second week of the murder trial of 66-year-old Geralyn Graham, who was Rilya's caretaker.

Graham is facing first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse charges, and faces life in prison if convicted.

On the witness stand, Muskelly said she often used the telephone to check on children under her supervision because of her caseload of more than 100 children. She also acknowledged claiming travel reimbursement for in-home visits for Rilya for months in 2001. It wasn't until April 2002 that authorities discovered Rilya was no longer living at the Graham home.

Before that, Muskelly said Graham would always assure her on the phone that Rilya "was doing fine, doing great" and when she did visit the home, she saw nothing amiss.

"I never saw a problem with the child," Muskelly testified.

On the travel vouchers for Graham in-home visits, Muskelly insisted at first that she "guesstimated" making the trips. Graham defense attorney Scott Sakin scoffed at that response.

"Were you trying to get money you weren't entitled to from the state of Florida?" he asked.

"I already told you I didn't go," Muskelly said.

Eventually Muskelly resigned from DCF and pleaded guilty to official misconduct for falsifying time sheets. She was placed on five years' probation and paid restitution to the state. She now works as an employment recruiter for a private company.

The girl's disappearance became a statewide scandal and had a far broader impact on DCF and its policies, including high-level resignations and launching of a new child tracking system. In addition, state lawmakers made it a crime to falsify records of visits between caseworkers and children in the agency's care.

Muskelly said she didn't realize Rilya was no longer living with Graham and her companion, Pamela Graham, until April 2002. That was when a new DCF caseworker took over.

"I said that was crazy. I didn't know anything about it," Muskelly said.

Later, Muskelly said she regretted many of her actions and wished often she could go back and change things.

"I'm not proud of what I did. I just wish I had paid more attention for the telltale signs of what was really going on," she testified.

Based on Graham's purported confession to fellow jail inmates, prosecutors say she smothered Rilya with a pillow and buried her body near a lake or canal. But Rilya's remains have never been found, and part of the defense is to raise doubt for jurors about whether Rilya might really still be alive.

The jailhouse snitches and Pamela Graham are expected to testify later in the trial, which is scheduled to last several more weeks. Graham has claimed that an unknown DCF worker took Rilya for medical testing and never returned the girl.

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Post by Wrapitup on Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:50 pm

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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:48 am

Detective Testifies Geralyn Graham Lied To Him About Rilya Wilson

December 12, 2012 12:28 PM

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami-Dade homicide detective took the stand Wednesday in the trial of Geralyn Graham, the caretaker accused of killing Rilya Wilson even though the child’s body has never been found.

Detective Christopher Stroze testified that Geralyn Graham told him what he would later learn was a lie, that she was the biological grandmother of Rilya Wilson.

The interview was conducted just days after it was learned that Rilya had been missing for at least 15 months.

Stroze said a confident Geralyn Graham readily agreed to be interviewed.

“She stated that if I could prove she was lying about anything she was talking about, then she was lying about everything.”

Graham told Stroze an unknown DCF worker took Rilya in January, 2001 to be evaluated for behavior problems and never returned the girl. Graham said she made repeated calls to DCF supervisor Willy Harris inquiring about Rilya’s whereabouts. Harris earlier testified no such calls were ever made.

Prosecutor Sally Weintraub asked Stroze if Graham seemed “in any way concerned about locating this little girl?”

“No,” the detective replied.

Stroze said Graham claimed Rilya had behavior problems and said she whipped the girl with a switch, causing welts on her legs.

Stroze said an extensive forensic examination was done of the home and yard where Rilya lived before going missing.

“We were looking for fingerprints, blood, fiber, bullets, casings, all of that,” Stroze said. “We didn’t find anything of evidentiary value there.”

Rilya’s body has not been found.

Graham, suspected of foul play from the start, was charged with murder in 2005 after several jailhouse snitches said she told them she killed Rilya because the girl was evil and a “slut.” Graham was in jail at the time on fraud charges.

Graham faces life in prison if convicted but insists she is innocent.

Rilya’s disappearance, and DCF’s long delay in discovering it, led to a high-level shake-up at the agency and numerous changes in the way foster children in Florida are tracked and monitored.

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Post by raine1953 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:53 pm

MIAMI - A state welfare worker testified Monday that the caretaker of missing foster child Rilya Wilson claimed false family ties to the girl and a younger sibling in order to qualify for state aid, which continued to flow for over a year after authorities believe Rilya was killed.

Diana Ramirez Romero, a Department of Children and Families employee who handles economic assistance, testified that 66-year-old Geralyn Graham said she was the grandmother of Rilya and a younger sister, Rodericka, and that both girls lived with her. Ramirez Romero said that enabled Graham - who used the name Geralyn Smith in their meetings - to get cash assistance and food stamps.
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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:46 am

These people, DCF and the "family" are all POS's. This is one case that Really gets to me! head bang

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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:03 am

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Normal Rep. Frederica Wilson seeks justice for foster care child missing for a decade

Post by raine1953 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:31 pm

MIAMI – Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has said she hopes justice will be served in the tragic case of 4-year-old Rilya Wilson, who disappeared off the face of the earth while in foster care.

Wilson, who has been a staunch advocate for the missing child, says we must protect our foster children just as we would do our own children.

“We must ensure voiceless children, like Rilya, are not forgotten,” she said.

The girl went missing in Rep. Wilson’s district in 2001. She was in the care of her legal guardian, Pamela Graham, and Graham’s long-term lesbian lover, Geralyn Graham.

The pair concocted a story that a state child welfare worker took Rilya for a medical examination in January 2001 but never brought her back. Investigators have testified they found no evidence to support this claim.

Years later Geralyn Graham, 66, allegedly confessed to the child’s murder while she was serving a two-year sentence for fraud. She is said to have told inmates she smothered Rilya with a pillow and buried her body near a lake or canal.

The evidence is heavily circumstantial and rests on the testimony of a jailhouse “snitch.” Graham has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and has written letters to judges insisting she is innocent.

She faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, child abuse and kidnapping charges. Rilya’s body has never been found.

On Monday Pamela Graham, 48, who is not related to Geralyn, testified against her former lover. She painted a picture of a controlling and dominate woman and said she witnessed her ex repeatedly punish Rilya Wilson but did nothing to stop it because she was afraid.

Dem congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida says, though the trial has received local media coverage, it hasn’t been picked up by the national press or mainstream broadcasters. “It’s probably because she’s an African-American child who has no mother, father or family,” she says, “the case isn’t getting the publicity it deserves.”

Rilya was a vulnerable African-American child who was let down by the system, says Wilson. “Why would the state use their resources to find a girl no one wanted?”

An investigation showed that a DCF caseworker, Deborah Muskelly, didn’t make the mandatory monthly visits to the Grahams’ home for more than a year, even though she was filing in reports and telling judges the girl was fine. Muskelly was eventually placed on five years’ probation and paid restitution to the state after pleading guilty to official misconduct for falsifying time sheets.

The girl’s disappearance caused a statewide scandal because child welfare officials didn’t realize Rilya was missing for around 15 months. The case eventually led to sweeping changes in monitoring of foster children and other child welfare reforms, including the Rilya Wilson Act to protect foster children.

The trial is expected to last through mid-January.
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Post by spayneuteryourpets on Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:24 pm

One of the sad things about this case is that Rilya won't even get a decent burial. It's a petty thing really when compared to the horror that was her life and then her violent death. But I still wish she could be found.
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Normal Mistrial Denied in Case of Missing Foster Child Rilya Wilson

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:39 am

Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez denied the mistrial motion, then testimony in the trial for Geralyn Graham resumed.

A judge on Thursday denied a mistrial in the case of a woman charged with killing missing South Florida foster child Rilya Wilson.

Attorneys for 66-year-old Geralyn Graham took exception with a prosecutor's question to a detective asking if police checked out whether "little green men" from space may have abducted 4-year-old Rilya.

Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez called the question inappropriate but denied the mistrial motion.

Testimony then resumed.

Graham, who was Rilya's caretaker, has insisted she did not kill her. Her attorneys maintain that there is no evidence that Rilya is dead, let alone that Graham killed her.

Graham could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted in the murder of Rilya, who was discovered missing in 2001 and whose body was never found.

Homicide detectives are testifying they found no physical evidence at Graham's home and located no witnesses.

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Post by Wrapitup on Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:42 am

Jailhouse Informant Cross-Examined In Rilya Wilson Trial

December 20, 2012 12:23 PM
Reporting Gary Nelson

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Robin Lunceford, a jailhouse informant, took the stand again Thursday for cross-examination in the murder trial of Geralyn Graham, accused of killing foster child Rilya Wilson.

Lunceford has testified that Graham confessed to her about killing Rilya.

However, defense attorney Michael Matters’ line of questioning Thursday portrays her as a habitual snitch and untrustworthy witness. He accused her of striking a deal with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony to reduce her life sentence. She turned down an offer that would have kept her locked up for 15 years.

“That was a hell of a lot better than life wasn’t it?” Matters asked.

“I wasn’t happy with it,” Lunceford replied.

“Obviously, you weren’t because now you got 10,” Matters said.

Lunceford shrugged and said, “yes.”

A day earlier, state prosecutors said she had not been offered a plea and was convinced by her defense attorney who made her feel guilty because a child had been killed.

“He basically begged, cussed, ranted, raved, and made me feel guilty because it’s a child,” Lunceford said.

Lunceford testified Wednesday that 66-year-old Graham told her while both were in jail that she smothered the 4-year-old girl with a pillow because Rilya was evil and mentally troubled. She also said Graham confessed to her that she disposed of the body near water.

“She whispered to me that she walked up to it (Rilya) and smothered it with a pillow,” Lunceford said in testimony Wednesday.

Lunceford said she took notes of her 2004 talk with Graham and read back parts of it to the jury which included, “She wants them to find the grave so it can be over. It’s eating her up inside.”

Lunceford continued saying Graham told her she gave Rilya “a proper burial in an area that was familiar to her, where Pam used to go fishing…that she buried it by the water because it represented peace.”

Lunceford is considered one of the prosecution’s key witnesses by defense attorneys claim the 50-year-old career criminal made up the story to get her own habitual offender prison sentence reduced from life to 10 years.

Graham faces life in prison if convicted of killing Rilya, whose body has never been found. Graham claims a state welfare worker took the girl and never returned her. Police say that is not true.

The girl’s disappearance caused a statewide scandal because child welfare officials did not realize she was missing for nearly 15 months, eventually leading to changes in the way foster children are monitored. Other child welfare reforms also followed.

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:23 pm

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Normal Jailhouse snitch retakes stand in Rilya Wilson case. Testimony continues in trial over missing foster child Rilya Wilson

Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:27 pm

Published On: Jan 02 2013 07:50:39 AM EST Updated On: Jan 02 2013 06:13:14 PM EST

MIAMI -
Trial has resumed in the case of a South Florida woman accused of killing missing Florida foster child Rilya Wilson with the key prosecution witness still on the stand.

Jailhouse informant Robin Lunceford was undergoing cross-examination Wednesday by an attorney for defendant Geralyn Graham. The defense is trying to poke holes in Lunceford's story that Graham confessed in jail to smothering 4-year-old Rilya with a pillow and burying her body near water. The body was never found.

"You just don't recall certain things when it's not convenient, is that right?" said defense attorney Michael Matters.

"If it's frivolous and has no meaning to child murder, I just don't try to remember it," answered Lunceford.

Lunceford had her life sentence cut to 10 years in return for her testimony.

The 66-year-old Graham faces life in prison if convicted of murder, kidnapping and child abuse charges. Graham claims Rilya was taken from her home for mental tests by a state worker in 2001 and never returned. Investigators say no evidence backs up Graham's story.

The trial is expected to last several more weeks.

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Normal Sharp Exchanges Between Defense Lawyer, Star Prosecution Witness in Geralyn Graham Trial. When Michael Matters asked "What are you smiling at?" Robin Lunceford replied "You"

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:04 pm

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Robin Lunceford seemed determined to give no ground to defense attorney Michael Matters in court Wednesday. His client, Geralyn Graham, is on trial for first-degree murder.

Geralyn Graham's jury saw a jousting match between defense attorney Michael Matters and star prosecution witness Robin Lunceford on Wednesday.

"Are you done with that answer?" Matters asked. Lunceford replied, "Yes. Are you done with that question?"

At another point Graham’s lawyer asked, “What are you smiling at?" Her answer: “You.”

Lunceford seemed determined to give no ground. She is the state's star witness, and has already told the jury Graham confessed to her behind bars, saying that Graham told her she murdered 4-year-old Rilya Wilson because she thought Rilya was possessed by demons.

Graham faces life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder of the foster child, whose body was never found. Graham is also charged with kidnapping and child abuse.

When Matters asked Lunceford about whether Graham said that authorities had no case against her, she replied, “No body, no murder.” When he pressed her on the point, Lunceford agreed that Graham had said that they had no case.

The defense brought that point up because although Lunceford said she wrote down everything, her notes never mentioned Graham saying "No body, no murder."

As he tried to show inconsistencies, Matters also asked Lunceford about another conversation involving Graham talking about her housemate, Pamela Graham.

"I can't remember which one broke up with who, but Pam put a block on the phone, and that Pam had wrote her some poems and that Pam better be careful, she could go down also, something to that effect,” Lunceford testified.

The issue of testifying in exchange for personal benefit also came up.

"I'm not ashamed of being a voice for Rilya Wilson,” Lunceford said.

Matters said she brags about it.

"It's not bragging, it is what it is,” she told him.

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Normal State rests case in Rilya Wilson murder trial

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:17 pm

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 5:21 pm
Associated Press

MIAMI—When inmate Ramona Tavia first met Gerayln Graham, the sweet older woman insisted to Tavia that she was innocent of the charges that had landed her in jail

An unknown “white man” from the state’s child welfare agency, Graham claimed, spirited away foster child Rilya Wilson. Now, Graham said, she was being blamed for the girl’s murder.

But Tavia, who took the witness stand Tuesday to conclude the state’s murder case against Graham, said the woman changed her story one night during a sobbing cell confession.

“She said she was doing it for (her live-in lover) Pam,” Tavia, 41, told jurors. “She had to protect Pam. She’s sick, she’s weak so she killed the baby for Pam.”

Tavia, a convicted murderer, was the third jail inmate to testify against Graham in a trial that began in late November.

Graham, 66, is accused of abusing, kidnapping and killing 4-year-old Rilya sometime about December 2000. The Florida Department of Children & Families had placed Rilya in the home of Pamela and Geralyn Graham, who are not related.

But the agency did not notice Rilya had been missing for some 18 months, a failure that shocked South Florida and caused massive reform.

A grand jury indicted Graham in 2005 after she allegedly confessed to an inmate that she smothered the girl and buried the body near water. That inmate, Robin Lunceford, spent four days on the witness stand.
Another inmate, convicted murderer Maggie Carr, also testified that Graham suggested to her that she disposed of the little girl’s body near a body of water in South Miami-Dade.

The defense will begin its case on Wednesday, calling witnesses to refute testimony presented by the prosecution.

Tavia was convicted of murder in 1994. Police said Tavia urged her husband, Modesto Silva Gonzalez, to shoot and kill a man during a brawl at a North Miami-Dade flea market. Tavia was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

In November 2003, Tavia had been moved from state prison to the Miami-Dade Women’s Detention Center while a judge considered an appeal. At the time, Graham was serving a two-year sentence for grand theft and welfare fraud.

Tavia testified that Graham plied her with gifts while insisting she had nothing to do with the girl’s demise.
But one night, Tavia saw Graham become extremely agitated after making a phone call. That night, with the jail filling up because of an influx of inmates, Tavia had to sleep on a mattress on the floor of Graham’s cell. Tavia said she heard Graham stifled cries.

When Tavia asked Graham if she was OK, the woman repeatedly said she had killed the baby because Pam — whom she identified as her sister — “was weak.”

Tavia said she eventually agreed to cooperate years later with authorities because she is a mother of three and a grandmother.

“I feel like the lady lied to me,” Tavia said. “She kept telling (prosecutors had) been lying on her, she did none of those things.”

In cross examination, defense attorney Michael Matters suggested Tavia was telling the story only so that prosecutors might vouch for her at a possible parole hearing in upcoming years.

“They no promise me that,” Tavia said in heavily-accented English.

“Aren’t you hoping they don’t object to your being placed on parole?” Matters pressed.

“If they doing it, it’s OK, she replied. “If they don’t, what can I do about it?”

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:43 pm

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Normal Ex-inmate says jailhouse informant lied about confession in Fla. missing foster child case

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:46 pm

By CURT ANDERSON AP Legal Affairs Writer
January 10, 2013 - 4:25 pm EST

MIAMI — Hoping for a reduced prison sentence, the star prosecution witness in the case of missing foster child Rilya Wilson concocted a story about the girl's former caretaker confessing to killing the child, a jury was told Thursday.

Cindy McCloud, 41, testified that the key witness, Robin Lunceford, told her while both were in state prison that she made up her story about caretaker Geralyn Graham smothering Rilya with a pillow and disposing of the girl's remains near water. The 4-year-old's remains have never been found.

Graham, 66, faces life in prison if convicted of murder, kidnapping and child abuse charges. Graham insists she is innocent and that Rilya was taken from her home by a child welfare worker for mental tests and never returned. Investigators have testified that no evidence has surfaced to back that up.

McCloud, who has been convicted of 27 felonies and was most recently released from prison in June, said Lunceford appeared upset one time when they were incarcerated at a prison near Ocala and McCloud asked what was wrong. Lunceford responded that she was going to testify about the purported confession and that none of it was true.

"Me and her were standing there and she said, 'you know, it's all lies. All of it,'" McCloud testified. "She just basically told me 'it's all lies and it's making me crazy.' That's what stresses her out."

Graham attorney Scott Sakin asked why Lunceford would make that up. "To get out. To go home," said McCloud, who now lives in Lakeland.

In addition, McCloud said she overheard Lunceford and another jailhouse informant, Maggie Carr, come up with a way for Carr to also testify against Graham in hopes of getting some benefit. Carr testified earlier that she also met Graham behind bars and that Graham had indicated Rilya's body would never be found because it had gone to "the elements."

At one point in prison, McCloud said Lunceford tapped on a stack of Graham trial documents and said, "One more big fat lie," in reference to Carr's testimony.

Lunceford, a career criminal, had been sentenced to life in prison before agreeing to testify, which resulted in a plea deal cutting the sentence to 10 years. Carr, who is serving 25 years to life for a role in a murder, has no plea deal in exchange for her testimony but will soon become eligible for parole.

McCloud said she has nothing to gain and was made no promises in exchange for her testimony on Graham's behalf. She said she has never met Graham.

"I would hate to be in trial and convicted of something because of someone else's lies. I don't think that's right," she said.

Rilya went missing from Graham's home in late 2000, according to trial testimony, but her disappearance was not discovered until some 15 months later. The case caused a major shakeup within the state Department of Children and Families and led to passage of several child welfare reform laws.

One reason the case took so long to go to trial was that Lunceford's statement about the Graham confession didn't come to light until 2005, which was when Graham was charged with murder.

Jurors could begin deliberations by the middle of next week.

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by spayneuteryourpets on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:15 am

What is the lesson in all this? Is there a lesson?
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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:32 pm

Gotta think about that one.

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Normal Geralyn Graham Trial: Defense Rests In Murder Of Missing Foster Child Rilya Wilson

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:02 pm

01/15/13 04:56 PM ET EST

MIAMI — The defense has rested in the case of a South Florida woman accused of killing her 4-year-old foster child more than 10 years ago.

Lawyers for 67-year-old Geralyn Graham on Tuesday focused on attacking the credibility of three jailhouse informants who implicated Graham in the Rilya Wilson's killing. Also testifying for the defense were corrections officials who say star prosecution witness Robin Lunceford was given preferential treatment behind bars.

Lunceford also got a life prison sentence reduced to just 10 years in exchange for her testimony that Graham confessed.

Graham did not testify in her own defense but has insisted on her innocence. Rilya's body has never been found.

Prosecutors now have the chance to put on a brief rebuttal case. Closing arguments are expected next Tuesday.

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by spayneuteryourpets on Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:23 am

When the prosecution has to resort to prison snitches with nothing backing up their testimony, then I gotta know they have a very weak case. If she is convicted I will be shocked.
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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:30 am

I am not sure just how I feel about the Prison snitches. There were other witnesses that testified against Graham that are not inmates.We shall see!!

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Normal Closing Arguments Tuesday in Rilya Wilson Murder Trial Jury deliberations expected to begin Wednesday.

Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:57 pm

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Normal By one vote, jury deadlocked on murder charge in Rilya Wilson murder trial

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:57 pm

Posted on Thursday, 01.24.13

BY DAVID OVALLE
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By one vote, the jury is deadlocked on the murder charge against the Kendall woman accused of murdering foster child Rilya Wilson.

Jurors, in a note to the judge Thursday afternoon, said they are deadlocked by a vote of 11-1 in the murder count against Geralyn Graham.

The note also said that the jury has reached verdicts in the other charges of aggravated child abuse and kidnapping. Not wanting to declare a mistrial just yet, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez instructed jurors to keep deliberating through dinner until at least about 8 p.m.


Graham, 67, is charged with aggravated child abuse, kidnapping and first degree murder. She faces life in prison. Jurors retired to begin deliberating at 10:45 a.m.

Defense lawyer Michael Matters, in his final argument Wednesday, ripped the state’s key witness, Robin Lunceford, a convicted armed robber who testified that Graham confessed in jail to smothering the girl with a pillow.

“Every bit of the story she concocted about my client is absolutely unbelievable,” Matters told jurors. “She graduated from prison life with a master in manipulation and a doctorate in deceit.”

Lunceford, an eccentric con who was doing life in prison, testified in exchange for a 10-year plea deal on armed robbery case.

The body of Rilya, whose disappearance sparked turmoil at the Florida Department of Children and Families, has never been found.

Miami-Dade prosecutor Sally Weintraub said Lunceford learned intimate details known only to a few people. That included an episode — backed up by other witness testimony — in which Graham grew angry because Rilya wanted to dress as Cleopatra, not an angel, for Halloween.

“Robin Lunceford is big, loud, aggressive, obscene, in-your-face, unpleasant. The kind of person you might just write off,” Weintraub told jurors. “How you feel about her is not what you have to consider … what the testimony is, the defendant’s words, that’s what you must consider.”

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:30 pm

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Normal Woman convicted of abuse, kidnap of missing girl

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:34 pm

BY CURT ANDERSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer

A woman was convicted Friday of kidnapping and child abuse in the case of a 4-year-old foster child who disappeared more than a decade ago, but jurors were unable to agree on a murder charge, leading to a mistrial on that count.

The 12-person jury said early on they were split 11-1 on whether 67-year-old Geralyn Graham killed Rilya Wilson and could not overcome the divide over two days of deliberations. The murder charge carried a potential life sentence, while the charges on which Graham was convicted carry potential sentences of at least 30 years behind bars.

Assistant State Attorney Joshua Weintraub said the state would not try Graham a second time on the first-degree murder charge. Graham, who was Rilya's caretaker, has long maintained her innocence.

Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez set sentencing for Feb. 12. Graham's attorneys said they planned an appeal.

Rilya vanished in late 2000 but her disappearance was not discovered for 15 months. That lapse led to high-level resignations at the state Department of Children and Families and passage of child welfare reform laws.

Rilya's body has never been found. Prosecutors relied heavily on testimony by jailhouse informants who said Graham confessed to them behind bars.

The state's star witness, career criminal Robin Lunceford, testified that Graham told her she believed Rilya was evil and possessed by demons, so Graham smothered the girl with a pillow and buried her near a body of water. Graham met Lunceford in jail while awaiting trial on fraud charges.

Authorities long suspected caretaker Graham in Rilya's disappearance, but didn't charge her until 2005. The case languished because of extended legal wrangling and because Lunceford backed out of testifying before finally relenting after negotiating a plea deal that cut her life sentence to 10 years.

The girl's disappearance led to resignations at DCF, including several high-level positions, when it was discovered that a caseworker was falsifying reports about the girl's well-being and that supervisors took little action. The case also led to a new missing child tracking system in Florida, approval of a privatized system of child casework and tougher laws against falsifying child welfare reports.

A caseworker who failed to check up on Rilya in person during all those months eventually pleaded guilty to official misconduct charges for falsifying time sheets.

Several Graham acquaintances testified that they saw evidence Rilya was abused. Graham's unrelated live-in lover, Pamela Graham, said the girl was tied to her bed at night with plastic handcuffs and that they got a dog cage to keep her in as punishment.

Prosecutors said Geralyn Graham could not tolerate Rilya's defiant behavior.

"This child's life was taken from her at the hands of a vicious defendant who acted viciously, who acted with hatred, who acted with evil intent. She had to put it out of its misery," Weintraub said in closing arguments.

Graham did not testify in her defense but has maintained her innocence. She told investigators that Rilya was taken from her home by an unknown DCF worker for mental tests and never returned, but no evidence emerged during the trial to support that story.

To friends who asked about the girl's whereabouts, Graham told various stories about trips to Disney World, New York and New Jersey. Again, detectives could find no proof of those trips.

Defense attorneys asked jurors to focus on the lack of a body, suggesting that Rilya might still be alive and might have been sold to another family.

"If they had focused more on that aspect of the investigation, we wouldn't be here today," Graham attorney Michael Matters said in closing arguments.

Rilya and two siblings were given up for adoption by the mother, a habitual crack addict. Her name is an acronym for "remember I love you always."

Graham has a checkered past, including a history of convictions for fraud. Authorities said she has used 47 different aliases and had 10 different driver's licenses when she was arrested. Weintraub has said Graham forged documents falsely claiming she was Rilya's grandmother in order to collect state benefits - even after police believed the girl was dead.

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Normal Re: Geralyn Graham Trial, charged with killing Rilya Wilson who is still missing since 2000. Update: 1/25/12: MISTRIAL declared on Murder charge..convicted of abuse & kidnapping/Graham sentenced to 55 yrs in prison!

Post by spayneuteryourpets on Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:37 pm

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OOPS. I was thinking that the holdout juror thought she was not guilty. But after reading this it seems it could also be that the holdout juror thought she was guilty.
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