Convictions upheld in Rilya Wilson case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a case that shook Florida's child-welfare system, an appeals court Wednesday upheld kidnapping and child-abuse convictions against a caregiver of 4-year-old Rilya Wilson, who disappeared in 2000 in Miami.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by Geralyn Graham, whose partner, Pamela Graham, received custody of the child in 2000 from the Florida Department of Children and Families. Geralyn Graham took care of Rilya and was accused of abuses such as locking the child in a laundry room and only allowing her out to use the bathroom.
Rilya disappeared in December 2000, and the Department of Children and Families did not discover until April 2002 that the girl was not living with Pamela Graham, according to the ruling.
In 2013, a jury found Geralyn Graham guilty of kidnapping with the intent to interfere with any governmental or political function and two counts of aggravated child abuse. With Rilya's body never found, the jury did not reach a verdict on a first-degree murder charge.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court Wednesday unanimously upheld the aggravated child-abuse convictions, which also included allegations that the girl was bound to a bed at a night.
"The jury was presented with ample evidence from which it could conclude that Geralyn Graham's actions in locking Rilya in a laundry room and binding Rilya to the bed with plastic cuffs were motivated by Graham's resentment toward and hatred for Rilya,'' said the decision, written by Judge Edwin Scales and joined by Chief Judge Frank Shepherd and Judge Kevin Emas.
Scales and Shepherd also agreed to uphold the kidnapping conviction, though Emas dissented on that issue.
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