A Chicago woman was convicted Thursday of torturing her granddaughter to death, with the 8-year-old's diary serving as key evidence of the toll the horrific abuse was taking on her, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Gizzell Ford started the diary in third grade, according to People. In pink marker and a neat hand, she wrote about clothes, friends, and teachers. The Chicago Tribune reports she liked dressing up for school and diagramming sentences. “I am going to be a beautiful smart and good young lady,” Gizzell wrote. But by the summer, the neat handwriting was gone. "If I be good...I won’t have to do punishments,” she wrote. Her last entry on the day before she died in July 2013: "I hate this life."
Gizzell was abused by her 55-year-old grandmother, Helen Ford, at the instruction of her bedridden father. She was forced to squat or stand in place for hours on end, tied to a bed for days, and kept from eating or drinking. When she tried to sneak a drink from the toilet in the maggot-infested apartment, she was punished. Prosecutors say she was used as a "punching bag." Gizzell reportedly tried to kill herself days before her death. A police officer broke down in tears in court describing the worst abuse she'd seen in 30 years. And the judge says Gizzell died a "slow, painful, agonizing death." Prosecutors say Helen Ford, found guilty of murder, never showed remorse. Gizzell's father, Andre Ford, died of a heart attack in 2014 while awaiting trial.