Closing arguments heard in Geralyn Graham murder trial in Miami

Jan. 22, 2013 at 7:32 PM
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MIAMI, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Florida murder suspect Geralyn Graham lied for years to hide the fact she smothered foster child Rilya Wilson, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Miami-Dade assistant State Attorney Joshua Weintraub said in his closing arguments the 67-year-old Kendall woman told a number of "fanciful" stories over the years to keep investigators from learning that she had killed the 4-year-old girl and disposed of her body, The Miami Herald reported.

Graham told investigators a state social worker took Rilya away for mental health treatment and never brought her back. She denied the account of jailhouse witness Robin Lunceford, who told police Graham had confessed to smothering the child with a pillow and burying the body near water in South Miami-Dade.

Weintraub labeled Graham's version of what happened as "lies, deceit and cover-up."

Rilya disappeared in 2000 and it was 18 months before the Florida Department of Children and Families realized the girl was missing. Authorities have never found Rilya's body.

Graham, whose abuse of Rilya allegedly included keeping her in a dog cage, was indicted in 2005 on charges of aggravated child abuse, kidnapping and first-degree murder. Her trial began Nov. 26.

WFOR-TV, Miami, reported the case could go the jury as early as Wednesday. Graham could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

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