US woman found guilty of forcing granddaughter, 9, to run until she died
She ate chocolates – something she had been forbidden from eating. Then she lied about it.
As punishment, nine-year-old Savannah Hardin was forced by her grandmother to run non-stop at her home in Alabama in 2012.
She ran back and forth carrying wood in the yard for almost three hours before collapsing and going into seizures.
She died days later in hospital from dehydration and low sodium, authorities said.
On Friday (March 20), Savannah's grandmother, Joyce Garrard, 49, was convicted by a jury of murder.
A spokesman for the local sheriff's office said: "There was a verdict in the case – guilty of capital murder."
Acted like a drill instructor
Etowah County assistant district attorney Marcus Reid told the jury during opening statements that Garrard had acted like a drill instructor.
He said Garrard gave different accounts about what had happened when police and paramedics arrived at the home: that the girl had fallen in the yard, that she had a seizure, or had a neurological problem.
Defense attorney Dani Bone argued that Savannah did not die as a result of dehydration but had retained too much water in her body.
The girl suffered from unspecified medical issues that resulted in frequent visits to doctors, according to court documents.
Garrard said in a conversation with a bus driver captured on video: "She's going to run till I tell her to stop."
Hardin had a bladder condition and was not allowed to have anything containing caffeine, Garrard told the driver.
The child's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, has also been charged with murder for allegedly witnessing the punishment and failing to intervene.