Prosecutors say Geralyn Graham was an abusive foster mother who used a dog cage as a disciplinary tool. And they brought that cage into court Wednesday so the jury could see where Rilya Wilson had to serve her punishment.
Laquica Tuff, who was a friend of Graham’s, testified that the former foster mom always seemed to be punishing Wilson and the child always had some sort of injury, reports HLN affiliate WSVN. “There were scrapes on her arms. There was a gash on her head.” But Tuff said Graham made excuses, blaming scrapes and gashes on Wilson's clumsiness.
Wilson disappeared more than a decade ago when she was just 4 years old, and Graham is now on trial for her death.
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.