Woman Charged with Murder for Forcing Nine-Year-Old Granddaughter to Run Three Hours

An Alabama woman has been charged with capital murder in relation to the death of her nine-year-old granddaughter.

According to prosecutors, Joyce Garrard forced the girl to run for more than three hours, trailing behind her with firewood and sticks and yelling “like a drill sergeant,” as punishment for lying. KVAL 13 reports Savannah Hardin had lied to her about eating candy on the school bus.

Savannah was reportedly not allowed to eat candy because she was on treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and struggled with bladder problems. A neighbor told officials he saw the girl running around the yard with Garrard looking on, but wasn’t concerned until he noticed her vomiting on all fours, her grandmother pouring water over her. When paramedics arrived, they found Savannah lying on the ground, cold to the touch, her clothes and shoes completely soaked.

Garrard’s trial began Monday. KVAL reports on the courtroom events:

Assistant district attorney Marcus Reid said during opening statements in a standing-room-only courtroom that jurors would hear from neighbors who say they heard and saw what happened to Savannah the day she died.

Defense attorney Dani Bone tried to raise doubt about medical evidence in the case by showing jurors a version of the indictment, which mentioned severe dehydration and seizures. However, Bone said Savannah died because of a fatally low sodium level. He said the evidence will show the girl had too much water in her system, not that she was dehydrated.