Defense Finishes Closing Arguments in Rilya Wilson Case

Jury deliberations were expected to begin Thursday

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Jurors were expected to begin deliberations on Thursday in the trial of Geralyn Graham, 67, who is accused of killing foster child Rilya Wilson more than a decade ago. Defense attorney Michael Matters and prosecutor Sally Weintraub spoke in court.

    After an eight-week trial, a jury is close to deliberating the case of a South Florida woman accused of killing foster child Rilya Wilson more than a decade ago.

    Defense attorney Michael Matters and prosecutors wrapped up closing arguments Wednesday.

    Jurors were expected to begin deliberations on Thursday. They must decide if 67-year-old Geralyn Graham smothered the 4-year-old girl in 2000 after allegedly abusing her for months.

    Closing Arguments Tuesday in Rilya Wilson Murder Trial

    [MI] Closing Arguments Tuesday in Rilya Wilson Murder Trial
    Assistant State Attorney Joshua Weintraub said in closing arguments that Geralyn Graham, 67, can be found guilty of first-degree murder even though the body of foster child Rilya Wilson has never been found. Defense attorney Michael Matters said jurors should focus on what evidence the state did not have.

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

    The case triggered a major scandal at Florida's child-welfare agency because Rilya's disappearance wasn't discovered for 15 months. The case led to resignations and the passage of reform laws.

    Judge Denies Acquittal in Geralyn Graham Trial

    [MI] Judge Denies Acquittal in Geralyn Graham Trial
    Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez ruled Wednesday there was sufficient evidence for a jury to decide the fate of 66-year-old Geralyn Graham. As the defense began arguing its case, it called detectives Ramesh Nyberg and Chris Stroze to the stand.

    Rilya's remains have never been found. The state's case rests heavily on jailhouse informants who say Graham confessed to them behind bars.

    Matters spent much of his time taking shots at the star witness for the state, jailhouse informant Robin Lunceford. She testified that Graham had confessed in jail to killing Rilya. Lunceford , as a career criminal, was arrested for armed robbery and was looking at a life sentence for being habitual offender. Matters said she made things up to make a deal with the state.

    "She didn't have to take a chance on getting convicted again, she got the best deal known, they cut her life sentence down to 10 years," Matters said.

    He added that the story that Graham confessed to Lunceford doesn't make sense.

    "And tell her all the things she never told her lover and companion for all that time, that she never told anyone else, that she denied forever, but to Robin the Saint, she's gonna confess? Come on," he said.

    He also spoke about a lack of physical evidence.

    "There's no evidence of it because my client never committed murder, my client never smothered Rilya Wilson, my client never buried Rilya Wilson anywhere, and that's the first element of murder in the first degree, that's the first thing they gotta prove, they gotta prove Rilya is dead," he said.

    But in the state's rebuttal, prosecutor Sally Weintraub went through Lunceford's testimony point by point, aruging that Lunceford told police details that could've only come from Graham.

    "How would Robin Know there was no DNA in this dog cage? Because the defendant told her it was clean," Weintraub said.