Three years ago, on Feb. 17, 2012, 9-year-old Savannah Hardin collapsed after her grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, forced her to run for more than three hours -- while carrying pieces of firewood -- as punishment for lying about eating candy. Savannah died days later. On Friday, Garrard was found guilty by an Alabama jury of capital murder, according to the Daily Mail.
Garrard, along with Savannah’s stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, both participated in the heinous punishment. Hardin has been charged with murder but has not yet been tried.
After Savannah collapsed, Garrard took her to the hospital, where she insisted that Savannah had been running in order to practice for a race at school. When Savannah’s mother, Heather Walker, arrived to see her daughter in the ICU at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Garrard prevented her from entering Savannah’s hospital room. Garrard finally allowed Walker to see her daughter and say her final goodbyes.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Walker recounts Garrard’s demeanor at the hospital: “When you looked at Joyce you didn’t see an upset person. There was just…nothing.”
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Walker claims to have overheard Garrard tell Hardin: “Listen here, you need to pull it together. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you? There’s a lot on the line here.”
When asked during the trial by Chief Deputy District Attorney Marcus Reid if Garrard recalled this conversation with Hardin, she said she did not.
Witnesses testified during the trial that they heard Savannah beg her grandmother and stepmother to let her stop running but the two refused. “Keep running. I didn’t tell you could stop,” Garrard told Savannah. When the young girl turned to her stepmother for help, Garrard said: “Don't look at her. She won’t help you,” as reported by the Daily Beast.
Onlookers expected the punishment would end when Savannah collapsed and began to vomit. Instead of calling for help, Garrard poured water down Savannah’s mouth. Her stepmother finally caved and called 911. When authorities arrived, 75-pound Savannah was soaking wet and passed out on the lawn. She was wearing only a t-shirt and underwear.
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Sentencing for Garrard is scheduled for Monday. She now faces the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.