(GADSDEN, Ala.) — In what prosecutors are describing as a horrific case of child abuse, two women are facing murder charges in the death of a 9-year-old who authorities say was ordered to run for three hours until she collapsed.
Savannah Hardin became so dehydrated after running last Friday, according to police in Gadsden, Ala., that she had a seizure and died a few days later.
The little girl was allegedly being punished by her grandmother, 46-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard, and her mom, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, for having lied about stealing some candy.
It’s unclear to prosecutors whether Savannah Hardin had been verbally ordered to run or if physical coercion was involved. What they do have is plenty of eyewitnesses who said they saw the girl running for hours.
The alleged victim’s father, Robert Hardin, filed for divorce in August of 2010, accusing Jessica Mae Hardin of being an alcoholic and displaying bi-polar tendencies.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Megan McNulty, Deseret News
Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, CNN
Wayne Covil, WTVR
Eugene Scott, CNN