published Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Stepmom, grandmother charged in girl's death in Alabama

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say they've charged a grandmother and stepmother in the death of a 9-year-old Alabama girl who died after being forced to run as punishment.

Etowah County sheriff's officials say 46-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard of Carlisle and 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin are accused of murder in the death of Savannah Hardin. The older woman is the girl's grandmother, and authorities say the younger woman is the child's stepmother.

Investigators say Garrard allegedly made the girl run without stopping as punishment for lying to her. The incident went on for about three hours.

The stepmother later called authorities saying the child was unresponsive. She died Monday, and officials say an autopsy found she was extremely dehydrated.

Both women are in jail. Court records don't show whether they have lawyers.

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