Credibility Of Jailhouse Confession At Issue In Graham Trial
South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Testimony against Geralyn Graham continued Friday as state prosecutors tried to bolster the credibility of a jailhouse snitch — a key witness in their case against the accused child murderer. Graham faces first-degree murder in the death of foster child 4-year-old Rilya Wilson. Rilya’s body has never been found.
A Miami-Dade corrections officer, Chandra Christian, took the stand Friday and in earlier testimony said that Geralyn Graham who is also known as Jane Doe and jailhouse informant Robin Lunceford had been transported together to attend a bond court hearing in August, 2004.
She said that it was during that time that Graham allegedly had broken down and made a confession to Lunceford. Christian said Lunceford told her what she said.
“Jane Doe had broke down and told her she had killed a little girl, how she killed her and where they buried her at,” Christian said.
Much of the state’s case against Graham has centered on Lunceford’s testimony who is the only witness who links Graham to the murder.
Lunceford has testified that Graham told her that she smothered the 4-year-old girl with a pillow because Rilya was evil and mentally troubled. She also said Graham confessed to her that she disposed of the body near water.
Lunceford who has given detailed testimony about Graham’s conversations with her, had lapses in her memory and, at one point, conflicted with what she recalled in court Wednesday and what she said in a CBS4 News interview in May of 2005.
“Did you ever tell anyone Ms. Lunceford that my client said she buried it close to water because it would cleanse the soul.” Matters asked.
First, Lunceford responded no and then added, “I don’t know if I said that or not. I can’t remember.”
In a telephone jailhouse interview with CBS4 News in May of 2005, Lunceford said Graham had told her that she had buried the child near a lake so that it would “cleanse her soul.”
Jurors also heard a redacted portion of that interview Thursday afternoon.
Lunceford who has been convicted of multiple armed robberies has traded her testimony for a lighter prison sentence from life to 10 years. It’s a fact that defense attorneys argued makes Lunceford less credible.
However, Lunceford said her motivation for testifying centers on the fact that a child had been murdered, despite the retribution she said she has suffered for being a “snitch.”
“I don’t hide it and I’m not ashamed of it,” Lunceford said. “I’ll stand up loud and produce for Rilya Wilson no matter what I go through.”
In earlier testimony, 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 is considered one of the prosecution’s key witnesses. Graham faces life in prison if convicted of killing Rilya.