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Alabama grandma Joyce Garrard could get death penalty in case of girl forced to run

Joyce Garrard AP Photo/Etowah County Sheriff's Office

(CBS/AP) CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. - Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a woman who is accused of killing her granddaughter by forcing her to run for hours, reports CBS affiliate WIAT.

Pictures: Stepmom, grandmother accused of running girl to death

Joyce Garrard, 46, is charged with capital murder in the death of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin, who died in February after allegedly being forced to run for hours as punishment for eating candy.

Also, the child's stepmother, Jessica Hardin, faces felony murder and life in prison for her role in the little girl's death. Investigators say she failed to step in and stop the punishment.

"The grand jury thought that Joyce Garrard had the intent or should have known that if you run a child to the point in time where it gets to the point that the body shuts down and can't support life anymore, that you could infer that intent was there," Calhoun County District Attorney Jimmie Harp said.

In a statement, Garrard's attorney, Dani V. Bone, wrote that "the facts of this case do not warrant the exaggerated, inflated and false charges" prosecutors have made against Garrard, reports the Birmingham News. He also wrote that his client is innocent and will be acquitted.

According to the News, Joyce Garrard, who is being held without bail, is on suicide watch and staying in the medical unit at the Etowah County Detention Center. Hardin is in the same detention center, being held on $500,000 cash bond.

Complete coverage of Savannah Hardin's death on Crimesider

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