Criminal Justice

Grandma faces capital murder case in running death of girl, 9, despite med-mal issue

An Alabama judge Friday refused to dismiss a capital murder charge against the grandmother of a 9-year-old girl who authorities said was forced to run for three hours as punishment for telling a lie. However, the girl’s father says medical malpractice contributed to her death.

Judge Billy Ogletree also refused to set bond for Joyce Hardin Garrard, 48, in the Etowah County case. She has been jailed about two years while awaiting trial, the Gadsden Times reports.

Making an argument similar to the claims in the med-mal case filed against Gadsden Regional Medical Center this week by Savannah Hardin’s father, defense attorney Dani Bone told the judge that the capital murder case should be dismissed because Savannah’s death was caused by the hospital’s failure to properly treat her. Authorities have said Savannah died of hyponatremia, a condition in which sodium levels in the blood have dropped very low. Bone, like the child’s father, argued that the hospital caused Savannah’s death by failing to treat her for low sodium.

Authorities said the girl collapsed after being made to run for about three hours for telling a lie about eating candy that she got on the school bus. Her stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin—who called an ambulance to the scene that day after Savannah had a seizure—was charged with murder and released on bond.

Garrard’s capital murder trial is scheduled for June.

See also: “Grandma, Stepmom Face Murder Case in Death of Girl, 9, Who Ran for Hours as Punishment, Sheriff Says”

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