Trial witness: Foster mom put girl in dog cage

NEED TO KNOW
  • 4-year-old Rilya Wilson vanished in 2000; body never found
  • Ex-foster mom, Geralyn Graham could face death penalty in child's death
  • A witness testifies Graham always punished little girl
Trial witness: Foster mom put girl in dog cage
Geralyn Graham

A friend of Geralyn Graham told police that Graham put her foster child Rilya Wilson in a dog cage as punishment one time.

Testimony in Graham’s trial for Wilson’s murder was delayed Wednesday afternoon as attorneys argued over whether prosecutors could use Detra Winfield’s statement about the dog cage to refresh Winfield’s memory, reports CBS Miami.

Judge Maris Tinkler-Mendez ruled that prosecutors could use the statement.

Another friend of Graham’s testified Wednesday the former foster mom always seemed to be punishing Wilson. Laquica Tuff testified at Graham’s trial Wednesday and told the jury Wilson was reserved and shy.

She testified that Wilson always had some sort of injury. “There were scrapes on her arms. There was a gash on her head,” said Tuff, reports CBS Miami. But Tuff said Graham made excuses, blaming scrapes and gashes on Wilson's clumsiness.

Read more: 10 years later, justice due for missing foster child

Wilson disappeared more than a decade ago when she was just 4 years old, and Graham is now on trial for her death.

“She said it was not enough money to take care of Rilya, it wasn’t worth it,” Tuff told the jury.

Prosecutors are charging Graham with first-degree murder. They say Graham believed Wilson was evil and possessed by demons.

In the defense’s opening statement, attorney Scott Sakin questioned whether the girl is actually dead. Sakin also proposed that Wilson was placed in another home and not properly documented, shifting some of the blame onto the state's Department of Children and Families, saying it had a history of ineptitude.

It took more than a year for the state's welfare agency to realize Wilson was missing. A case worker had been filing false reports that the little girl was in good condition, and authorities didn’t discover she was missing until 2002.

Rilya Wilson’s disappearance led to major overhauls in the DCF after it was revealed that a caseworker was falsifying reports and administrators took little action.

Investigators believe she went missing in late 2000. Rilya's remains have never been found.

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