Courts

Rilya Wilson case goes to trial Monday

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Jury selection begins Monday in the murder case against the Miami caretaker whose foster child, Rilya Wilson, vanished more than a decade ago, rocking the state’s child welfare agency.

Geralyn Graham, 66, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse. Rilya’s body has never been found.

The high-profile case sparked massive public interest and drastic reforms at the Florida Department of Children & Families, which placed Rilya with Graham and her lover in 2000.

Graham maintains her innocence.

DCF did not realize Rilya had vanished from the Grahams’ home until April 2002, more than a year after she was last seen, because her case worker had not checked on the girl.

Graham told case workers that an unidentified DCF worker — a “tall, heavy-set, light-skinned woman with an accent” — came to pick up Rilya.

A Miami-Dade grand jury indicted Graham in 2005 after a jailhouse informant claimed Graham confessed to smothering the girl and dumping her body in a canal.

Jury selection begins in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez, and is expected to last several weeks.

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