The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 23, 2013

Judge sets hearing in girl's running death


Associated Press

GADSDEN —

A judge will consider dismissing charges against an Etowah County woman accused of making her 9-year-old granddaughter run until she collapsed and died.

Etowah County Circuit Judge William Ogletree has set a hearing for Jan. 10 for Joyce Hardin Garrard.

Garrard is asking Ogletree to dismiss a charge accusing her of capital murder in the 2012 death of granddaughter Savannah Hardin.

Prosecutors say the 48-year-old Garrard made the girl run for three hours as punishment for a lie about eating a candy bar.

The child collapsed and died three days later.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, also is charged with murder for allegedly allowing the punishment to take place.

Defense lawyers say the little girl had health problems, and they deny the women are to blame for what happened.