Geralyn Graham's former lover told jurors Monday that Graham abused Rilya Wilson and then one day, suddenly, the little foster child was gone.
"I didn't understand why," Pamela Graham said.
The key witness for the prosecution said that when she came home one day to the house she shared with Geralyn Graham, 4-year-old Rilya wasn't there – and Geralyn Graham had no convincing explanation.
She said "that she wasn't there, she told me again she wasn't there, and I asked her who was she with, that's when she told me she wasn't there, and then she wasn't coming back and I wasn't gonna see her anymore," Pamela Graham recounted in emotional testimony.
Geralyn Graham, 66, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder of 4-year-old Rilya, whose body was never found. She also faces charges of kidnapping and child abuse.
Graham insists she is innocent and maintains that a state child welfare worker took Rilya away for mental tests in January 2001 and never returned her. Investigators have testified they found no evidence to support Graham's claim.
Pamela Graham has already pleaded guilty to two counts of child neglect and will be sentenced after Geralyn Graham's trial is over.
Pamela Graham was the child’s foster parent of record, but Geralyn Graham was the head of their household and is charged with murdering the girl.
Pamela Graham said she was terrified of Geralyn Graham, and looked the other way when Geralyn, she said, would sometimes leave Rilya tied up to the bed for days at a time.
"She was allowed to go to the restroom and to have food, she just couldn't be out among people and enjoy TV or toys or anything like that," she said of the foster child.
When Rilya disappeared, Pamela Graham gathered her nerves and said she was calling the police, she testified.
“The defendant threatened me with a hammer and told me to put the phone down," she said.
That's when, Pamela Graham said, they concocted the story they would tell – that someone from DCF picked up Rilya.
"I was scared, and I knew that I was the one that had legal custody of her and I was just afraid that whatever happened to her I would be blamed for it," she said.
In cross–examination, the defense began to make its case Monday that Pamela Graham is lying, cannot be trusted and is just trying to save her own skin.
The trial resumes Tuesday, and is expected to last through mid-January.