February 23, 2012 / 1:25 AM / 8 years ago

Grandmother, stepmother charged with running girl to death

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Two Alabama women were accused of murder on Wednesday for allegedly killing a young girl by forcing her to run for three hours without stopping, authorities said.

The running was apparently a punishment for Savannah Hardin, 9, who died on Monday at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham from dehydration and low sodium, a condition common in marathon runners, according to Natalie Barton, Etowah County, Alabama Public Information Officer.

The child was apparently forced to run in the family’s yard for eating a forbidden candy bar and lying about it, she said.

A call placed to a 911 emergency operator reported an unresponsive child having seizures, said Barton.

“It appears they ran her until she dropped,” she said.

The child’s grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, and step-mother, Jessica Mae Hardin, 27, were charged on Wednesday with felony murder. Bond was set at $500,000 each.

The girl’s father, who had custody, was not home at the time, said Barton.

There had been no prior reports of abuse in the family, Barton said.

The third-grader’s fellow students created a makeshift memorial on her desk at school, writing notes that will be delivered to her father, said Alan Cosby, superintendent of the Etowah County Schools.

Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst

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