By one vote, jury deadlocked on murder charge in Rilya Wilson murder trial

 

After hearing closing arguments Wednesday, jurors will now consider the fate of Geralyn Graham, charged with killing the missing foster child.

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

By one vote, the jury is deadlocked on the murder charge against the Kendall woman accused of murdering foster child Rilya Wilson.

Jurors, in a note to the judge Thursday afternoon, said they are deadlocked by a vote of 11-1 in the murder count against Geralyn Graham.

The note also said that the jury has reached verdicts in the other charges of aggravated child abuse and kidnapping. Not wanting to declare a mistrial just yet, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez instructed jurors to keep deliberating through dinner until at least about 8 p.m.

Graham, 67, is charged with aggravated child abuse, kidnapping and first degree murder. She faces life in prison. Jurors retired to begin deliberating at 10:45 a.m.

Defense lawyer Michael Matters, in his final argument Wednesday, ripped the state’s key witness, Robin Lunceford, a convicted armed robber who testified that Graham confessed in jail to smothering the girl with a pillow.

“Every bit of the story she concocted about my client is absolutely unbelievable,” Matters told jurors. “She graduated from prison life with a master in manipulation and a doctorate in deceit.”

Lunceford, an eccentric con who was doing life in prison, testified in exchange for a 10-year plea deal on armed robbery case.

The body of Rilya, whose disappearance sparked turmoil at the Florida Department of Children and Families, has never been found.

Miami-Dade prosecutor Sally Weintraub said Lunceford learned intimate details known only to a few people. That included an episode — backed up by other witness testimony — in which Graham grew angry because Rilya wanted to dress as Cleopatra, not an angel, for Halloween.

“Robin Lunceford is big, loud, aggressive, obscene, in-your-face, unpleasant. The kind of person you might just write off,” Weintraub told jurors. “How you feel about her is not what you have to consider … what the testimony is, the defendant’s words, that’s what you must consider.”

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