Several Graham acquaintances testified that they saw evidence Rilya was abused. Graham’s unrelated live-in lover, Pamela Graham, said the girl was tied to her bed at night with plastic handcuffs and that they got a dog cage to keep her in as punishment for misbehavior.
Prosecutors said Geralyn Graham could not tolerate Rilya’s defiant behavior.
“This child’s life was taken from her at the hands of a vicious defendant who acted viciously, who acted with hatred, who acted with evil intent. She had to put it out of its misery,” Weintraub said in closing arguments.
Graham did not testify in her defense. She told investigators and even national television programs that Rilya was taken from her home by an unknown DCF worker for mental tests and never returned, but no evidence emerged during the trial to support that story.
To friends who asked about the girl’s whereabouts, Graham told various stories about trips to Disney World, New York and New Jersey. Again, detectives could find no proof of those trips.
Defense attorneys asked jurors to focus on the lack of a body, suggesting that Rilya might still be alive and might have been sold to another family.
“If they had focused more on that aspect of the investigation, we wouldn’t be here today,” Graham attorney Michael Matters said in closing arguments.
Rilya and two siblings were given up for adoption by the mother, a habitual crack addict. Her name is an acronym for “remember I love you always.”
Graham has a checkered past, including a history of convictions for fraud. Authorities said she has used 47 different aliases and had 10 different driver’s licenses when she was arrested. Weintraub has said Graham forged documents falsely claiming she was Rilya’s grandmother in order to collect state benefits — even after police believed the girl was dead.