GADSDEN, Ala. — Alabama prosecutors say they are filing a capital murder charge, which carries the possibility of the death penalty, against a grandmother accused of running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death as punishment for eating chocolate.
Etowah County authorities announced the decision Thursday during a bond hearing for 46-year-old Joyce Garrard. A prosecutor called her the “drill sergeant from hell.”
Garrard and 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, the girl’s stepmother, are charged with murder in the death of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin.
Defense lawyers say both women are innocent and predict they’ll be acquitted.
Authorities say Savannah was forced to run for three hours before she collapsed. They say the grandmother became angry when Savannah ate chocolate, which the girl was not supposed to eat because of a medical condition. Savannah was also allegedly made to carry about 10 pounds of wood while running, according to new information revealed at the hearing.
During the proceeding, Jessica Mae Hardin was seen crying. Lawyers asked the judge to lower their bonds, set at $500,000 each.