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 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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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 5:40 pm

I wonder how much of that 30 years she will actually get and actually serve.
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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 raine1953 on Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:29 pm

Well it states in the article that the charges on which Graham was convicted carry potential sentences of at least 30 years behind bars. So if she gets the 30 years and she's 67 now it's life.
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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 9:28 pm

That's why I am not upset over this outcome. She w/never walk free again. Just hope one day we learn where little Rila is.

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Normal CONGRESSWOMAN FREDERICA WILSON STATEMENT ON RILYA WILSON CASE VERDICT

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:12 pm

Friday January 25, 2013
MIAMI, FL – Today, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24), released the following statement in response to the verdict in the trial of Geralyn Graham, who was charged with first degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse in connection with the 2001 disappearance of Rilya Wilson, a four-year-old foster child in her care. Jurors convicted Graham of abusing and kidnapping the child, but a mistrial was declared on the murder charge.

“I have mixed emotions today,” said Congresswoman Wilson. While this verdict brings some degree of closure to the criminal aspect of this case, we have much more work to do in order to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again. Rilya would have been 16 years old today, with a world of opportunity open to her. While we cannot change the tragic fact of her death, we can take steps—including passing the federal version of the Rilya Wilson Act—to honor her memory by making life safer for young people in her position. Foster children are the most vulnerable members of our community, and we have an obligation to protect them.

I applaud the Office of State Attorney Kathy Rundle and the Assistant State Attorneys who worked diligently on this case. Situations like these are always difficult and the State Attorney’s Office was professional and diligent in its efforts.”

After it was revealed that the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) took 15 months to become aware of Rilya’s disappearance, Congresswoman Wilson began a major legislative action that ultimately resulted in sweeping changes to the DCF.

The Rilya Wilson Act, which passed the Florida Legislature on July 16, 2003, is widely considered the most extensive overhaul to foster care law in decades. If a child in Florida DCF care is reported as absent from school, the school is now obligated under the law to report the absence to the child’s caseworker. The caseworker is then obligated to visit the child and determine whether the child is within the custody of a proper guardian. If that child is missing, the caseworker must notify law enforcement, and law enforcement will then proceed to find the child. She has sponsored a federal adaptation of the Rilya Wilson Act, which requires that states have procedures in place to report missing children to law enforcement for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This bipartisan bill has more than 100 co-sponsors and is supported by the South Florida Congressional Delegation.
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U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson is a second-term Congresswoman from Florida representing parts of Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward counties. A former state legislator and school principal, she is the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school.

http://wilson.house.gov/press-releases/congresswoman-frederica-wilson-statement-on-rilya-wilson-case-verdict/

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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 Jan 27, 2013 5:15 pm

Florida v. Geralyn Graham: Did She Kill 4-Year-Old Foster Child Rilya Wilson?

January 25, 2013 10:41 AM By Denise Noe

The trial of Geralyn Graham, 67, for three counts of aggravated child abuse, one count of kidnapping, and one count of murder in the case of four-year-old Rilya Wilson, a Florida foster child who disappeared in 2000 and whose body has never been found, began on November 26, 2011 and lasted eight weeks before going to the jury.

One of the most compelling prosecution witnesses was Pamela Graham who is not related to Geralyn but shared a home with her and was the legal foster mother of Rilya. The two Grahams were also lovers. According to Pamela Graham, she knew Geralyn was abusing Rilya. Pamela testified that she saw Geralyn tie Rilya to a bed with her wrists in plastic restraints and saw her put Rilya in a bathtub filled with water so hot it caused Rilya to burst into tears. Pamela said Geralyn said the restraints were to prevent the child from getting up at night to eat sweets and that putting Rilya in the extremely hot tub was punishment for bed-wetting.

Asked why she failed to report such abuses, Pamela Graham answered, “She was always controlling and dominant. I was just afraid of her.” Pamela Graham often wept during her testimony.

On cross-examination, Geralyn Graham’s lawyer Scott Sakin, tried to cast doubt on Pamela’s credibility. Pamela admitted having falsely stated the two were sisters on a job application and writing on state forms that she possessed educational credentials she in fact lacked.

Pamela Graham demonstrates the way in which Rilya's hands were bound. Photo: Getty Images.
Pamela Graham testified that Geralyn Graham was very angered that Rilya wanted to wear a Cleopatra costume instead of the angel costume Geralyn insisted she wear. Rilya was not allowed to go trick-or-treating but Geralyn glued the angel mask on her face, leaving scrape marks on her skin when the mask was ripped off.

According to Pamela Graham, she returned home in December 2000 to find Rilya gone. “[Geralyn] said [Rilya] wasn’t coming back and I wasn’t going to see her anymore,” Pamela Graham testified. “She just kept telling me Rilya was OK and not to worry.” The couple quarreled angrily. Pamela began calling police and Geralyn threatened her with a hammer. However, Pamela also admitted that there were other reasons she failed to report her strong suspicion that “something bad had happened” to Rilya.

“I was scared and I knew that I was the one that had legal custody of her,” Pamela Graham said. “I was just afraid that whatever happened to her, I would be blamed for. It was selfish, I know, thinking about myself instead of her.”

She did indicate it was an emotional relief when she began cooperating with authorities in May 2004. “I was tired of carrying the lies I had previously told,” Pamela Graham testified.

Detra Winfield had been friends with Geralyn Graham. Winfield testified gave Geralyn Graham a dog cage because Geralyn said she needed it to control Rilya for the child’s own safety because she threw violent temper tantrums.

Winfield also testified that the Grahams had a yard sale in which they sold Rilya’s toys. Winfield stated that she had bought a dresser formerly used by Rilya.

Witness Ludwig Smith had dated one of Geralyn Graham’s daughters. He testified that he once saw Rilya locked in a cramped laundry room. Smith said that as he walked toward the garage, “I hard a little voice say ‘hi.’ I looked down and saw Rilya there, she was sitting behind the door on the floor.” He testified that Geralyn Graham had told him she was being punished for misbehavior. He also testified that he had asked about the dog cage and that Geralyn Graham replied that she “put Rilya in there as a method of controlling her movements.” He also said he saw scratches and bruises on Rilya. “Mrs. G. would explain that Rilya would do that to herself,” Smith testified.

One of the state’s star witnesses was longtime prison inmate Robin Lunceford, sentenced to life imprisonment as a repeat offender for her participation in several violent armed robberies but who had her sentence reduced to 10 years for cooperating with authorities in this case. Lunceford claimed Graham confessed the killing. Lunceford testified, “At first I thought she was crazy and then I wanted to beat the crap out of her.”

The prosecutor asked the convict why she reacted so emotionally to Graham’s alleged confession. Lunceford replied, “Well, I don’t like baby killers and I don’t like child molesters. I don’t like any children crimes.”

Further questioning elicited Lunceford’s assertion that Graham said she believed the child was possessed by demons and that killing her would put her out of her misery. Lunceford also claimed Graham referred to the supposedly demon possessed child by the dehumanizing pronoun “it.” Lunceford testified, “She said it was suffering and that she couldn’t allow it to grow up and suffer like that.” Lunceford claimed Graham confessed smother Rilya with a pillow.

Lunceford also testified to Graham telling her that the body had been disposed of in land that was near water. “I said, ‘So what did you do, just throw the body in the backyard and bury it?’” Lunceford recalled on the stand. “And she said ‘no,’ that she ‘gave it a proper burial,’ that she took it to a ravine – first she said ravine, then she said private lake and then she said a canal – but it was in an area that was familiar to her that Pam used to go fishing.” The Pam referred to is Pamela Graham.

On cross-examination, Sakin pointed out that Lunceford has reason to lie since her deal with the prosecution means she may soon be free.

Maggie Carr, who is serving life for a 1991 murder, testified that she received training as a law clerk while imprisoned and Graham asked her for legal advice. “She told me that were trying to get her for murder,” Carr testified. Carr claimed Graham repeatedly told her that she could not be convicted of murder without a body and that “the critters” had destroyed Rilya’s body.

During cross-examination, Carr admitted she had fled the U.S. to avoid prosecution, then returned to Florida but hid. Attorney Sakin also suggested that Carr hoped to benefit from her testimony and secure parole.

A third inmate, Ramona Tavia who is serving live for a robbery and murder, testified she was with Graham in a jail annex and briefly shared a cell with her in November 2003. Tavia testified that Graham wept as corrections officers led her into the cell after a phone call. Tavia elaborated that Graham said she “killed the baby” to “protect Pam” whom Graham called “sick and weak.” Tavia said she is eligible to apply for parole in 2016 and that prosecutors made no promises in exchange for her testimony. She testified as “as a mother” she felt compelled to share this information with authorities.

Defense attorney Scott Sakin suggested in his opening statement that Rilya could still be alive. CBS Miami reported that ”Sakin suggested Rilya could’ve been relocated to a new home and lost in a system that has a history of case worker incompetence.”

The defense called inmate Cindy McCloud, in prison for drug crimes, to the stand. McCloud said she knows both Lunceford and Carr. McCloud testified that Lunceford said her testimony was “all lies. All of it. It’s all lies.” McCloud also testified that Carr asked Lunceford to bring her in on a plea deal. McCloud said Carr told her she believed she would receive favorable reviews from the State Attorney’s Office for her testimony.

Corrections Sgt. Rene Vila was called by the defense. Vila confirmed that jail records showed that Tavia and Graham had not shared a cell in November when Tavia claimed Graham had confessed to her.

When prosecutors cross-examined Vila, she conceded that the records might not be completely accurate. “If it was a temporary matter, no cell change would have taken place in the system,” Vila testified.

In closing argument, prosecutor Joshua Weintraub reminded the jury that Geralyn Graham told several “fanciful” stories through the years about what became of Rilya and that her story of a Department of Children and Families worker picking the child up for tests was not verified. Weintraub said Graham had a pattern of “lies, deceit, and cover-up.” Weintraub asserted, “It happened because of this woman’s hatred of Rilya.”

Defense attorney Michael Matters told the jury to add up all the “lacks” in the prosecution case. Matters said, “Lack of physical evidence. Lack of a body. Lack of any physical discovery of remains. Lack of a motive for killing her. You should use your common sense.”

On January 24, 2013, the jury sent a note to Judge Marisa Tinkler-Mendez stating they were deadlocked on the murder charge. The judge instructed them to continue working on the case. The jury indicated they had reached verdicts on the three child abuse charges and the kidnapping charge but the verdicts will not be read until a decision is reached on all five charges.

According to reports coming from the court, the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge because of a single juror. They returned to the courtroom Friday, January 25, to continue deliberating. Their verdicts on the other charges could not be announced until all of the deliberations were finished.

By Friday afternoon, it had been announced: Geralyn Graham was convicted of kidnapping and child abuse, but the jury could not reach a verdict on the murder count, resulting in a mistrial on that charge.

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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 Feb 12, 2013 12:21 pm

In Session
A Miami-Dade County judge sentenced Geralyn Graham to 55 years in prison after a jury convicted the caretaker last month of kidnapping and child abuse charges in the disappearance of four-year-old Rilya Wilson.

The judge said Graham inflicted “unimaginable pain” to Rilya, and added, “One can only be inherently evil to inflict that type of pain and torment on a child.” The judge added, “She [Rilya] lived in fear and suffered in a house of torture, torment and abuse.”

The prosecution has not decided whether to retry Graham on the first-degree murder charge. The judge set a hearing on March 15 regarding the retrial.

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Normal Geralyn Graham guilty of kidnapping and child abuse

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:16 pm

By Graham Winch
updated 1:12 PM EST, Tue February 12, 2013

Geralyn Graham was charged with murder, kidnapping and child abuse for the disappearance of her foster child
A jury convicted Graham Friday of kidnapping and child abuse

The jury was hung when it came to the first-degree murder charge

A Florida jury convicted Geralyn Graham Friday on four counts of kidnapping and aggravated child abuse for the disappearance of her foster child Rilya Wilson more than a decade ago.

But the jury couldn’t decide whether she murdered the child. The judge declared a hung jury and mistrial on Graham’s first-degree murder charge. Graham was facing the death penalty for that charge.

The jury began deliberating Thursday at 11 a.m., and ended the day around 4:40 p.m. They returned to deliberate at 9:15 a.m. Friday morning.

Her sentencing is set for Feb. 12. The prosecution could still seek a retrial on the murder charge, but a status hearing on the murder charge is also scheduled for Feb. 12.

Wilson’s body was never found, and Graham maintains she is innocent.

Wilson’s disappearance sparked public outcry for reforming the Florida Department of Children & Families child welfare procedures because DCF was unaware Wilson was missing until 2002, more than a year after she was last seen.

In response, the Florida Legislature passed the Rilya Willson Act that requires closer monitoring of children in DCF’s care.

In 2002, Graham told case workers that an unidentified DCF employee took the girl. Wilson’s disappearance remained a mystery for until 2004, when a jailhouse informant told authorities that Graham confessed to suffocating the girl and disposing of her body in a canal.

Multiple delays postponed Graham’s trial, including scheduling problems, a medical issue involving one of Graham’s attorneys and a new judge being assigned to the case.

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Normal 55-year sentence in missing foster child case

Post by raine1953 on Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:55 am

MIAMI — A woman who once cared for missing foster child Rilya Wilson was sentenced Tuesday to 55 years in prison for kidnapping and child-abuse convictions, closing a case that spanned more than a decade and triggered changes in Florida’s child-welfare system.

Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez imposed the sentence on Geralyn Graham, 67, who was convicted last month following an eight-week trial. With a lone holdout, jurors were unable to agree on her guilt or innocence on a first-degree murder charge, and prosecutors are unlikely to retry Graham on that count.

Tinkler Mendez said the evidence showed that 4-year-old Rilya was subjected to “senseless, cruel and inhumane acts” at the hands of Graham.

“One can only be inherently evil to inflict that type of pain and torment on an innocent child,” the judge said.

Assistant State Attorney Sally Weintraub said Rilya went from an initial loving foster home to an “abyss” with Graham that kept the child in terror during the final months of her short life.

“We trust that with this sentencing there will be some measure of satisfaction to those people who loved Rilya and cared about her,” Weintraub said.

The judge sentenced Graham to 30 years for kidnapping plus 25 years for aggravated child abuse. Two other abuse sentences — 25 years and five years, respectively — will be served concurrently for a total of 55 years behind bars. Prosecutors had sought the maximum of life plus 65 years.

Rilya vanished in December 2000 from the Miami-area home shared by Graham and her lover, Pamela Graham. Her disappearance wasn’t noticed for 15 months, largely because a Department of Children and Families caseworker neglected to check on the girl in person as required.

The case led to the resignation of then-DCF director Kathleen Kearney and the passage of several reform laws, including a new missing-child-tracking system and the contracting out of foster child casework to private organizations. Lawmakers also made it illegal to falsify records of visits between caseworkers and foster children.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat who sponsored some of those reforms in the state Legislature, said Graham’s sentence was just. She is not related to Rilya Wilson.

“She’s not getting life, but she will be in prison for the rest of her life,” Wilson said of Graham after the sentencing.

Rilya, whose name is an acronym for “remember I love you always,” was the daughter of a crack-addicted woman. Rilya and two sisters were all put up for adoption, with the younger sibling also being cared for by the Grahams when Rilya disappeared.

By the time investigators got the case, any physical evidence that might have existed was long gone. Rilya’s body has never been found, leading Graham’s defense lawyers to suggest during the trial that the girl might have been sold and could still be alive. Prosecutors also had no eyewitnesses to any crime.

Graham insisted she was innocent and in brief remarks Tuesday she said eventually “the truth will come out.”

“It hurt me to the depths of my soul for anyone to think I would do that to any child. I only tried to help her,” Graham said. “I loved her too much to have ever done anything to her. Things have been greatly exaggerated.”

Defense attorney Michael Matters said there will be appeals of the convictions and sentence. He praised the judge, nevertheless, for restraint in the sentence.

“My client was not convicted of murder, though the state would like the court to sentence my client and punish her as if she were,” Matters said.

During the trial there was evidence of abuse, including a dog cage witnesses said Graham obtained to punish Rilya and testimony about the girl’s lengthy confinement in a small laundry room. Pamela Graham testified that Geralyn Graham regularly tied Rilya to her bed using plastic restraints so she would not get up during the night.

The murder case hinged on testimony by three jailhouse snitches. The state’s star witness, career criminal Robin Lunceford, said Graham told her behind bars that she smothered Rilya with a pillow and buried the body near water. Lunceford said Graham believed Rilya was evil and had to be put out of her misery.

A last straw was Rilya’s insistence on wearing a Cleopatra mask instead of an angel costume for Halloween, according to Lunceford.

Graham consistently denied harming the girl, telling investigators and even national television shows that Rilya had been taken away by a DCF worker for mental tests and never returned. No evidence ever surfaced to back up that claim. Graham also told other stories to friends about Rilya’s whereabouts.

Lunceford made a deal with prosecutors cutting her life sentence to 10 years in exchange for her testimony. She is currently scheduled for release in March 2014.

Pamela Graham was charged with child neglect but also will likely get no jail time in exchange for her testimony. Pamela Graham insisted she does not know what happened to Rilya, but she didn’t admit to investigators until 2004 that there were numerous lies surrounding the girl’s disappearance.
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Normal State Won’t Pursue Murder Charge Against Geralyn Graham In The Death Of Rilya Wilson

Post by NiteSpinR on Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:02 pm

10/30/2013


Prosecutors won’t retry a Kendall woman already in prison in connection with the murder of Miami foster child Rilya Wilson, who disappeared 13 years ago in a scandal that rocked the state’s child welfare agency.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced the decision to drop the prosecution Wednesday, nine months after jurors deadlocked, 11-1, on the murder charge against Geralyn Graham.

But the 67-year-old woman won’t be getting of prison. That same jury found Graham guilty of aggravated child abuse and kidnapping, convictions that led to a 55-year prison term.

Graham is “reported physically ill,’’ according to a state attorney’s memo. “The length of her sentence is essentially a life sentence.”

Prosecutors believe Graham in December 2000 smothered Rilya with a pillow, disposed of her body in South Miami-Dade, and then spent years telling conflicting versions of what happened to the foster child. The girl’s remains have never been found.

Graham and her lover were caretakers for the child, born to a drug-addicted Ohio woman. The case led to massive reform at Florida’s Department of Children and Families, which had failed to discover the child was missing for more than a year.

Graham falsely claimed to investigators that a DCF case worker whisked the child away for some sort of mental health treatment, prosecutors say.

She was indicted in 2005 after Miami-Dade police said she confessed in detail to a cellmate that she murdered the child.

The inmate, Robin Lunceford, an eccentric longtime convict who got a plea deal for her testimony, was one of the star witnesses in the trial. She is now out of prison and on probation.

Graham’s ex-lover, Pamela Graham, no relation, also testified during trial that the woman kept Rilya locked in a laundry room, tied her to a bed and used a dog cage to keep the child from climbing on furniture.

Proving the murder count — based on Lunceford’s word, plus the testimony of two other prison inmates – was always an uphill battle for prosecutors.

The other two inmates have since told prosecutors they would no longer cooperate against Graham because of harassment within the prison, according to the memo. And Lunceford was recently listed as a defense witness in an unrelated Miami-Dade murder case, giving further ammunition to Graham’s defense attorneys who have long attacked her credibility.

“I think the state realized they could never bring those jailhouse snitches before another jury and hope to win,” said Graham’s defense attorney, Michael Matters.

Graham is appealing her conviction.

Prosecutors say, however, they could re-file the murder charge if detectives are able to find Rilya’s body.

In Wednesday’s memo, prosecutors detailed several recent attempts to find the young girl’s remains, including the recent discovery of female child’s skull in a lake in Margate.

However, investigators could not extract a usable DNA sample from the skull to match to Rilya’s.

“Over the coming years, there may be other glints of information claiming to lead to Rilya’s body and they too would be followed up,” prosecutors wrote in Wednesday’s memo. “This remains a circumstantial case of a homicide without a body.”

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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!

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