Grandmother Guilty in 9-Year-Old's Running Death

Joyce Hardin Garrard faces death penalty
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2015 7:56 AM CDT
Grandmother Guilty in 9-Year-Old's Running Death
Joyce Hardin Garrard is led back to the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Ala., after her conviction.   (AP Photo/ Gadsden Times, Eric T. Wright)

A woman who forced her 9-year-old granddaughter to run so long that the girl died now faces the death penalty. A jury in Alabama convicted Joyce Hardin Garrard of capital murder yesterday in the 2012 death of young Savannah Hardin, reports NBC News. Jurors deliberated more than three hours, about the same amount of time that prosecutors say Garrard made the girl run in her yard as a punishment for lying about eating candy bars. She later suffered a seizure and died. Jurors will convene again to recommend whether the 49-year-old should get life in prison or the death penalty.

"That lady right there ran her granddaughter until she was on her knees begging, 'I've got to stop,'" said District Attorney Jimmie Harp in closing arguments. A defense attorney countered that it was a tragic mistake, not murder, adding that after a guilty verdict, "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 cried with her head down as the verdict was read, and sobs were heard in the courtroom, reports Savannah's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, faces her own murder trial on charges of failing to intervene, notes AP. (More grandmother stories.)

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