Jailhouse Informant Takes Stand In Rilya Wilson Trial
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Robin Lunceford, a jailhouse informant, took the stand Wednesday afternoon in the murder trial of Geralyn Graham, accused of killing Rilya Wilson.
Lunceford has previously said that Graham confessed to smothering Wilson, 4, and disposing of her body near water when both were in jail together. Lunceford is considered one of the prosecution’s key witnesses.
“She whispered to me that she walked up to it (Rilya) and smothered it with a pillow,” Lunceford said in testimony Wednesday.
Lunceford said she took notes of her 2004 talk with Graham and read back parts of it to the jury which included, “She wants them to find the grave so it can be over. It’s eating her up inside.”
Lunceford continued saying Graham told her she gave Rilya “a proper burial in an area that was familiar to her, where Pam used to go fishing…that she buried it by the water because it represented peace.”
Defense attorneys are expected to say Lunceford, a 50-year-old career criminal, made up the story to get her own prison sentence reduced.
Lunceford’s testimony came after some fireworks in the courtroom.
Graham had a sudden outburst in court as her former lover, Pamela Graham, testified. Geralyn, who is not related to Pamela, although they claimed at times to be sisters, accused Pamela of lying.
“Stop lying, Pam. Tell them what happened. Tell them the truth,” Geralyn Graham loudly stated Tuesday afternoon, interrupting Pamela’s testimony. It caused Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez to demand order.
Minutes later, in another outburst, Geralyn said Pamela was the last one to hold Rilya in her arms.
Tinkler Mendez warned Geralyn she would be removed from court if it happened again.
Geralyn apologized for the outbursts.
Pamela, meantime, admitted during redirect questioning Wednesday that Geralyn instructed her in what to say about Rilya’s whereabouts. When originally asked, Geralyn said a DCF worker took Rilya for mental testing and never returned her but told friends she was on a trip to New York. Pamela Graham said none of it was true, but she remained silent for years.
“Had you been instructed by the defendant as to how to answer questions as to where Rilya is?” a state prosecutor asked Pamela Graham.
“Yes,” she replied.
It wasn’t until May 2004 that Pamela Graham admitted to a cold case investigator that there were many lies surrounding Rilya’s disappearance, including the story about a DCF worker taking the girl away. That was when she began cooperating.
“I was tired of carrying the lies I had previously told,” she previously testified.
Pamela also testified Wednesday that she received threatening voicemails, which she shared with police.
Geralyn Graham, 66, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, child abuse and kidnapping charges. Pamela Graham made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to child abuse and child neglect charges in return for her testimony, and likely will face no jail time.
Rilya’s body has never been found and Pamela Graham said she does not know what happened to her. The girl’s disappearance caused a statewide scandal because child welfare officials did not realize she was missing for nearly 15 months, eventually leading to changes in the way foster children are monitored. Other child welfare reforms also followed.