Homicide detective testifies in Rilya case

Published On: Dec 12 2012 06:14:46 PM EST
Updated On: Dec 13 2012 11:17:12 AM EST

A Miami-Dade Police homicide detective testifies in the murder trial of 66-year-old Geralyan Graham, who is accused of killing foster child Rilya Wilson.

MIAMI -

A Miami-Dade Police homicide detective testified Wednesday in the murder trial of 66-year-old Geralyan Graham, who is accused of killing foster child Rilya Wilson.

The jury had already seen the dog cage, which Graham used to cage Wilson, according to testimony, but Miami-Dade Police Det. Chris Stroze said it wasn't considered evidence during his investigation.

"We didn't find anything of evidentiary value there," said Stroze.

The investigation began as a missing persons case once the Department of Children and Families discovered in April 2002 that 4-year-old Rilya Wilson had been missing for some 15 months. Her caretaker, 66-year-old Geralyn Graham, told Milito that an unknown DCF worker had taken Rilya for psychological testing and never returned the girl.

Stroze testified that a year after Wilson disappeared, the dog cage was among a lack of physical evidence that Graham killed Wilson.

"There was nothing that would lead you into making an arrest in 2002, 2003?" asked defense attorney Scott Sakin.

"I did not make an arrest based on the information I gave the State Attorney's Office," said Stoze.

Stoze, the lead homicide detective in the case at the time, said Graham could give details, dates, and times, but couldn't remember the name of the Department of Children and Families employee she said took Wilson.

"She described this lady as 6 foot, little taller than me, light-skinned, black female," said Stoze.

A day care director testified Tuesday that Graham told her a male DCF worker picked up Wilson. Other witnesses testified that a woman took Wilson to New York for the holidays.

"She stated that if I could prove that she's lying about anything that we talked about, I would know that she's lying about everything," said Stoze.

Also Wednesday, prosecutors showed an interview Graham did on "Good Morning America" in May 2002.

Graham was eventually charged with Rilya's slaying even though no body or crime scene has ever been found. She faces life in prison if convicted but insists she is innocent. A key to the prosecution's case is testimony from jailhouse snitches who claim Graham confessed to smothering the girl with a pillow.

Rilya's disappearance, and DCF's long delay in discovering it, led to a high-level shake-up at the agency and numerous changes in the way foster children in Florida are tracked and monitored.