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Woman who ran 9-year-old granddaughter to death jailed for life

CourtsBy Shuki Byrne
Prosecutors say Garrard made the child run for hours as punishment for a lie about sweets
Prosecutors say Garrard made the child run for hours as punishment for a lie about sweets

An Alabama woman has been jailed for life without parole over the running death of her nine-year-old granddaughter.

Joyce Hardin Garrard held hands with her defence lawyer as Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree handed down the sentence on Monday.

Savannah Hardin collapsed after running and died three days later in 2012. Prosecutors say Garrard made the child run for hours as punishment for a lie about sweets.

Garrard made Hardin run for almost three hours while carrying wood as punishment for lying about having eaten chocolates before the girl collapsed and went into seizures, prosecutors have said.

The 50-year-old grandmother denied that she meant to harm the child. She told jurors the girl was running as practice because she wanted to do better in a race at school.

Garrard said in a conversation with the girl's school bus driver captured on a bus video that "she's going to run till I tell her to stop," as punishment.

Hardin had a bladder condition and was not allowed to have sweets or caffeine, Garrard told the bus driver.

The jury that convicted Garrard recommended life in prison but the final decision was up to the judge.