Prosecutors Upgrade Charge In Girl's Running Death

By Salon Staff

Published March 1, 2012 4:09PM (EST)

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Alabama prosecutors say they will upgrade the charge against a grandmother accused of forcing a girl to run to death, filing a capital murder count that carries the possibility of the death penalty.

Etowah County authorities announced the decision Thursday during a bond hearing for 46-year-old Joyce Garrard.

Garrard and 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin 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. They say the father of the dead girl is supporting the women.

The girl was forced to run for three hours before she collapsed, authorities say. Her father later decided to remove her from life support at a hospital.

The grandmother became angry when Savannah allegedly ate chocolate, authorities have said.

Salon Staff

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