State Presents Rebuttal Case In Graham Murder Trial
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Prosecutors presented their rebuttal case Wednesday in the trial of Geralyn Graham who is accused of murdering 4-year-old foster child Rilya Wilson more than a decade ago.
The first witness prosecutors called to the stand was jailhouse informant Maggie Carr who earlier testified that Graham had made incriminating remarks about her case.
Carr, who studied to become a law clerk while in prison, told jurors that Graham had told her that “critters” and “the elements” had taken care of Rilya’s body. Carr also said Graham was adamant about asking her if they could charge her with murder if there was no body. Rilya’s body has never been found.
The state has based its murder case on three jailhouse informants who testified that Graham made incriminating statements to them about the child. Defense attorneys have focused their case on discrediting the testimony of those informants.
Carr earlier testified that she was dressed in blue when Graham made alleged admissions in Rilya Wilson’s death. But a series of jail officials testified earlier that Carr would have had to have been in a red uniform to be on the same third floor cell block with Graham.
Carr backtracked Wednesday saying she arrived at the jail in a blue uniform.
“I was coming from prison. I got the red jumper after I got to the third floor,” Carr said.
It is a seemingly minute detail, but one the defense hopes will sew reasonable doubt among the jury.
Graham who is facing a first-degree murder charge could spend the rest of her life in prison, if convicted.
State prosecutors also called Florida Department of Corrections Investigator Angelique Munnerlyn whose testimony attempted to discredit the testimony by defense witness Cindy McCloud.
McCloud earlier testified that two of the three jailhouse informants, Maggie Carr and Robin Lunceford, had made up stories about Graham’s alleged confessions. In one instance, McCloud said she recalled the state’s star witness — Lunceford — telling her that Graham’s confession and her testimony were “all lies.”
Munnerlyn, the prison inspector, helped bolster the suggestion by the state that McCloud and Lunceford were lovers and that McCloud testified out of spite after their split.
Munnerlyn also testified that McCloud had cost Lunceford a plum prison job.
“She had lost her job because of her affiliation with Lunceford and she was upset because of it,” Munnerlyn said.
Prosecutors also highlighted that Lunceford was not well-liked in prison because of her testimony in the Rilya Wilson trial and had been labeled a snitch.
“She got a lot of boos and she kept getting called snitch,” said Sgt. Amber English Benemon, of the Florida Department of Corrections, describing the reception Lunceford received at a prison talent show.
During cross examination, English Benemon acknowledged that Lunceford had a reputation for being a serial snitch against fellow inmates and correctional officers suggesting that the booing at the talent show had nothing to do with her testimony in the Rilya Wilson case.
Lunceford also testified that Graham confessed to her in August of 2004 that she had smothered Rilya Wilson with a pillow and buried her body near water.
The jury did not hear directly from Graham. On Monday, Graham told Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez that she did not wish to testify.
No physical evidence has linked Graham to a murder. Rilya’s case drew national attention in 2002 after state child welfare officials discovered her missing 15 months after she was last seen. A nationwide search generated thousands of tips, but none ever led them to the child.