MIAMI (CBS) – A juror in the trial of Geralyn Graham holds no ill feelings for a lone member of the panel who held out, blocking a murder conviction against the woman accused of torturing, kidnapping and killing foster child Rilya Wilson.
“If that’s your belief, then stay with your belief. It did not bother me at all, and this is part of the system that we have here,” juror Jose Lopez told CBS4’s Gary Nelson in an exclusive one-on-one interview Wednesday.
Lopez was among eleven jurors who wanted to convict Graham of murdering Rilya, who went missing twelve years ago and whose body has never been found.
The holdout juror felt the murder case had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard Judge Marisa Tinkler-Mendez said had to be met.
The jury did convict Graham of kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, and child abuse. She faces up to life in prison at sentencing February 12th.
“I want to believe that she really didn’t do any of this, because she looked like a nice lady,” Lopez said of Graham.
There was no physical evidence linking Graham to murder, and the only testimony against her came from jailhouse snitches whose testimony was largely discredited by another former inmate and by corrections officials who disputed the informants’ accounts.
Lopez said even he didn’t believe the jailhouse snitches.
“I really didn’t believe any of those testimonies, I don’t, because those people in prison, they’re always trying to do anything just to get out,” he said.
So why did he – why did eleven jurors – push to convict Graham of murder?
Lopez said he and the others were swayed by common sense, given the abuses Graham inflicted on the child.
Witnesses testified she kept Rilya locked in a laundry room for hours on end, flex-cuffed her to a bed, even borrowed a dog cage in which to imprison the girl.
CBS4’s Gary Nelson asked Lopez, “You didn’t believe the snitches were reliable, there was no physical evidence, but if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck?”
“Yes,” Lopez replied.
Lopez said jurors bonded like “brothers and sisters” over the more than seven weeks of trial, including the lone juror who blocked the murder conviction.
Lopez said the group cried together for Graham, “the one we are punishing,” and particularly for Rilya, “who didn’t deserve this type of punishment.”
“I felt like I knew the little girl. That’s really the part that hurts me,” Lopez said.