Prosecutors in Miami have decided to retry Geralyn Graham, the caretaker of missing foster child Rilya Wilson, on a murder charge. Defense attorney Michael Matters said he was annoyed and surprised by the state's decision. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle spoke about prosecutors' new effort in a statement, while Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez raised concerns about the retrial taking place in Miami-Dade County.
Prosecutors in Miami have decided to retry the caretaker of missing 4-year-old foster child Rilya Wilson on a murder charge.
"During her very brief life, Rilya Wilson was too often abused and forgotten. No child should ever be treated as she was," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.
A jury in January convicted 68-year-old Geralyn Graham of kidnapping and child abuse but could not agree on a murder count. Graham was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the convictions, but prosecutors said Friday they will try her again for murder.
"We have spent a decade on a journey to secure true justice for Rilya and to ensure that her pain and suffering is never forgotten," Fernandez Rundle said. "We are relieved that through our efforts the person responsible for Rilya’s death already faces a significant penalty.
"However, the murder of a child is such a terrible crime that we intend to continue to seek justice for Rilya Wilson."
A judge set a September trial date.
Graham's defense attorney, Michael Matters, said he was annoyed and surprised by the state's decision.
“Yes, especially after the verdicts that were rendered, especially after the sentences that my client received, and especially since the costs that are involved in a retrial of this type of a case,” Matters said.
Rilya vanished in December 2000 from Graham's home but her disappearance wasn't noticed for 15 months, largely because a Department of Children and Families caseworker neglected to check on the girl. Rilya's body has never been found.
The state's case hinges largely on jailhouse informants who say Graham confessed to them. Graham insists she is innocent.