An Alabama woman could be facing the death penalty after being convicted of capital murder for running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death.
The Inquisitr brought you the story of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin, who died in February 2012 after being forced to run laps while picking up sticks in the yard for three hours after allegedly lying to her grandmother about eating some candy bars. The girl became severely dehydrated, collapsed, and had a seizure. She died in the hospital three days later. Her stepmother and grandmother were arrested and charged with murder.
Savannah’s grandmother, 49-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard, was found guilty Friday of running her granddaughter to death, despite her attorney’s insistence that she meant the child no harm. According to Fox News, Garrard claims she only made the girl pick up sticks in the yard as punishment, and that her granddaughter was only running that day as practice for races at school.
The prosecution contended that Garrard forced the girl to run until she was vomiting and begging to stop, and school bus surveillance video of Garrard saying she was going to run Savannah to teach her a lesson was brought as evidence in the case. Witness who saw the child running that day were also called to the stand.
“She was tortured,” Assistant District Attorney Carol Griffith told the jury.
“That lady right there ran her granddaughter until she was on her knees begging, ‘I’ve got to stop,'” District Attorney Jimmie Harp said in his closing arguments.
Garrad’s attorney questioned how a guilty verdict would affect youth sports, and claimed that it could open the door to criminal charges against coaches if a child is injured while participating.
“If you do what they want you to do… every single coach out there is going to quit within 30 seconds. If a kid slides into second and skins his knee, what’s the charge going to be?”
Garrard did not react to the verdict, although several members of her family cried when it was announced, and her daughter ran sobbing from the courtroom. According to US News & World Report, the grandmother glared at the other trial watchers as she was led from the courtroom after the jury’s decision.
Sentencing for Garrard is scheduled to begin on Monday.
Savannah’s step-mother, Jessica Mae Hardin, is currently free on bond awaiting trial, but no trial date has been set yet. She is also charged with murder for failing to intervene while Garrard was running the child to death. Hardin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
[Image via AL.com]