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Grandma faces death penalty in abuse case

March 14, 2012 at 10:21 AM

BOAZ, Ala., March 14 (UPI) -- An Alabama woman could face the death penalty for allegedly forcing her 9-year-old granddaughter to run until she collapsed, prosecutors said.

Joyce Garrard, 46, is accused of forcing Savannah Hardin to run around the family's house near Boaz, Ala., for three hours after she lied about eating a chocolate candy bar, CNN reported Wednesday.

Savannah ran until she collapsed and began having seizures. She later died at Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Ala. A state pathologist ruled the death a homicide.

Garrard is charged with capital murder, which means she could face the death penalty if convicted.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, 27, is charged with felony murder, which is a lesser charge. Prosecutors said Hardin was charged for failing to intervene in the punishment.

Attorneys for the two women say Savannah's death was unintentional.

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