published Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Alabama judge may toss run-death charges — and more Chattanooga region news

Alabama judge may toss run-death charges

GADSDEN, Ala. — A judge will consider dismissing charges against an Alabama woman accused of making her 9-year-old granddaughter run until she collapsed and died.

Etowah County Circuit Judge William Ogletree has set a hearing for Jan. 10 for Joyce Hardin Garrard.

Garrard is asking Ogletree to dismiss a charge accusing her of capital murder in the 2012 death of granddaughter Savannah Hardin.

Prosecutors said the 48-year-old Garrard made the girl run for three hours as punishment for a lie about eating a candy bar.

The child collapsed and died three days later.

The girl’s stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, also is charged with murder for allegedly allowing the punishment to take place.

Defense lawyers said the girl had health problems, and they deny the women are to blame for what happened.


State offers winter fishing

DeKALB COUNTY, Ala. — Got cabin fever? Break out the fishing rods.

This winter, seven of Alabama’s 23 state public fishing lakes will be open for winter fishing, the nearest in DeKalb County.

DeKalb County Lake is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday during December and January. The lake is located one mile north of Sylvania off County Road 47. Call 256-657-1300 for more information.

“Alabama’s public fishing lakes are managed for optimum fishing,” Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Chief of Fisheries Stan Cook said. “We encourage everyone to take advantage of this unique winter fishing opportunity.”

Other Alabama lakes open to fishing include lakes in Barbour, Bibb, Dale, DeKalb, Geneva and Madison counties that will be open during portions of December and January. Remaining lakes are closed until Feb. 1, 2014, when the lakes return to their regular schedule.

Fishing license requirements apply at all lakes; daily permits are required of all anglers 12 and older.

A complete list of state lakes can found in the freshwater fishing section of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website at www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/where/lakes.


Rapist avoids prison sentence

ATHENS, Ala. — A North Alabama man convicted in a series of rapes has again avoided a prison sentence for the assaults.

Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof on Monday suspended a 35-year sentence for Austin Clem and ordered him to spend five years on probation for a series of assaults on a former neighbor.

Prosecutors appealed after Woodroof’s original sentence didn’t require prison time for 25-year-old Clem. They claimed the sentence violates state law.

An appeals court ordered another sentencing, and Woodroof again let Clem stay out of prison.

The victim says she is “extremely upset” and feels like she’s been punched in the face.

Clem was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman three times. Prosecutors say the assaults began seven years ago when the victim was 13.

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