Death penalty sought after girl died from running punishment

Prosecutors in Gadsden, Ala., say they will seek the death penalty against a woman whose granddaughter died after being forced to run three hours as a punishment.
Joyce Hardin Garrard is seen in a booking photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff's Office. She is accused of murder for allegedly killing Savannah Hardin by forcing her to run for three hours without stopping (Reuters)

Prosecutors in Gadsden, Ala., say they will seek the death penalty against a woman whose granddaughter died after being forced to run three hours as a punishment.

Police in Alabama say Savannah Hardin, nine, was made to run for three hours after lying to her grandmother about eating a candy bar. (Associated Press)

The Gadsden Times reports that Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp made the announcement Monday regarding 46-year-old Joyce Garrard, who was indicted last week for capital murder in the death of nine-year-old Savannah Hardin.

An Alabama grand jury also last week indicted the girl's stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Hardin, for felony murder.

Prosecutors charged Garrard with the capital offence because the girl's death last month happened during another felony, child abuse. Authorities said Jessica Hardin didn't intervene when Garrard punished the girl for lying about eating chocolate.

Attorneys for both women have denied they did anything intentional to harm Savannah and predict both will be acquitted.