- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

MIAMI, Jan. 13 (UPI) — A woman who was caring for 5-year-old Rilya Wilson when the young girl disappeared from her home two years ago went on trial for fraud Monday.

Geralyn Graham is charged with using the identification and personal credit history of Bonnie Jean Joyner of Memphis, a former friend, to buy a $29,000 sport utility vehicle. The maximum penalty would be 20 years in prison.

She has been held in Miami-Dade County Jail since Oct. 2 on the SUV charges and on charges of welfare fraud. None of the charges involve Rilya Wilson.

The defendant has been linked to the little girl for nine months and investigators say she has not been truthful about the disappearance.

Graham insists that a woman who claimed to be with the Florida Department of Children and Families picked up Rilya in January 2001 for medical and psychological tests and she never saw the little girl again.

The department said it has no record of any such incident.

Investigators said they are keeping her in jail as long as they can, hoping she will tell them more about the disappearance.

The trial is expected to last only a day, but jury selection could run through three days because of the notoriety surrounding the girl's disappearance.

Defense attorney Brian Tannebaum said he will ask members of the jury pool what they know about Rilya and if they have ever heard of Geralyn Graham.

But attorneys familiar with the case say it is unlikely Tannebaum will be allowed to mention the disappearance after the jury is selected.

They say it is critical he mention it during jury selection.

"There's going to be a lot of people in that jury pool that don't connect Graham with the Rilya case at all," said Raaj Singal, a Broward County defense attorney. "So it's dangerous for him to ask about Rilya in jury selection, but he can't not ask. He has to."

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