An Alabama woman who was convicted of running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death to punish her for lying about candy has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Joyce Hardin Garrard was found guilty of capital murder in March in the 2012 death of her granddaughter Savannah Hardin whom she forced to run for hours until the girl collapsed and died.
Garrard told Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree, who handed down the sentence, that if she could change anything, it would be to have Savannah alive today. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Joyce Hardin Garrard (right) was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree on Monday for her role in the death of her 9-year-old granddaughter Savannah Hardin (left).
A jury of 8 men and 4 women convicted Garrard of capital murder in March. They recommended a sentence of life in prison, however the judge could have given Garrard the death penalty.
Etowah County district Attorney Jimmie Harp told the judge on Monday that the jury’s recommendation was the right call.
Testimony during the trial showed that the girl collapsed and vomited outside her rural home in 2012, after an afternoon of running and carrying sticks. Savannah died several days later in a hospital after she was removed from life support.
2. A neighbor testified at the trial that he saw the girl running and carrying firewood and sticks over a two-hour period as he came and went from his home. Garrard was reportedly punishing her granddaughter for lying about eating a candy bar (pictured, Garrard’s home).
A neighbor testified that he saw the girl running and carrying firewood and sticks for two hours. Chad Jacobs said:
Joyce and Savannah were in the yard, and Joyce was telling Savannah to keep running. She was just saying, “Keep running, I didn’t tell you to stop.”
The grandmother said in a conversation with the nine-year-old’s school bus driver, captured on a bus video, that her granddaughter “is going to run till I tell her to stop” as punishment.
Garrard explained to the bus driver that the girl’s punishment was meted out because she had a bladder condition and was not allowed to have sweets or caffeine.
3. Garrard denied that she meant to harm the child. She told investigators the girl wanted to run and get faster after finishing second in a race at school, according to police testimony.
The grandmother said she did not mean to harm her granddaughter. She told investigators that Savannah wanted to get faster after finishing second in a race at school, according to her testimony.
Jessica Mae Hardin, the girl’s stepmother, has also been charged with murder. Police say she witnessed the punishment but failed to intervene.
4. Joyce Garrard sentenced to life in prison — a WIAT42 report.
5. Defense Attorney Dani Bone and District Attorney Jimmie Harp speak following the sentencing of Joyce Hardin Garrard — an AL.com report.
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