Warden: Jailhouse informant coddled

Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:03:21 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 15 2013 04:38:00 PM EST

A jailhouse informant who testified Geralyn Graham admitted to smothering 4-year-old Rilya Wilson with a pillow and burying her body near water was coddled in prison, says a former prison warden.

MIAMI -

A jailhouse informant who testified 66-year-old Geralyn Graham admitted to smothering 4-year-old Rilya Wilson with a pillow and burying her body near water was coddled in prison, said a former prison warden.

Norman Jenkins was the former warden of Homestead Correctional Institution, where Robin Lunceford was transferred before she testified in this case.

"I felt like I was between two - a rock and a hard place as they say," said Jenkins.

Graham faces life in prison if convicted of killing Rilya, whose disappearance was not discovered by state officials for some 15 months. That failure led to a high-level shakeup at the state Department of Children and Families and passage of several foster child reform laws, including tighter case worker reporting rules and better tracking of children. Wilson's body was never found.

Jenkins said Lunceford was a disciplinary problem from the beginning. He added that she received her choice of room assignments, jobs, and restored telephone service after it was taken away.

"Was there a reason why you didn't have Miss Lunceford put back in close management and send down to your facility?" asked defense attorney Scott Sakin.

"Well, I don't know how, what you're really asking me. I can tell you I didn't do it because I understood they wanted Robin Lunceford at Homestead for this trial," replied Jenkins.

"Was Mr. Weintraub (prosecutor) asking you to have Miss Lunceford released from confinement?" said Sakin.

"I was asked to consider - I was asked to consider her being released from confinement," answered Jenkins.

"Alright. And who were you asked that by?" said Sakin.

"Mr. Weintraub," said Jenkins.

Lunceford, who was serving a life sentence for an armed robbery conviction, had her sentence reduced to 10 years in return for her testimony.

Defense attorneys have declined comment on whether Geralyn Graham will testify. She has maintained in the past that Rilya was taken from her home by an unknown child welfare worker for mental tests and never returned. Investigators, however, have found no evidence to support that claim.