Pregnant stepmother, grandmother held in death of girl, 9, forced to run


The pregnant stepmother and grandmother of 9-year-old Alabama girl Savannah Hardin, who died after being forced to run for three hours as punishment for having lied to her grandmother about eating candy bars, have been charged with murder, police said.

Hardin was severely dehydrated after being told to run and not allowed to stop for three hours on Friday, an Etowah County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman told the Associated Press, citing witnesses.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, 27, called the police at 6:45 p.m., telling them Savannah was having a seizure and unresponsive.

She died on Monday at Children's Hospital in Birmingham from dehydration and low sodium, a condition common in marathon runners, Reuters cited Natalie Barton, Etowah County, Alabama Public Information Officer, as saying.

"It appears they ran her until she dropped," Bartin reportedly said.

"A very unnecessary act," Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp told CNN in a telephone interview. "[The] taking of a candy bar turned into [an] all-day marathon … until the point of time she just collapsed."

At the time of Jessica Mae Hardin's arrest, she was pregnant, CNN reported, citing Etowah officials and adding that she haddelivered a baby on Wednesday afternoon and was under armed guard at a local hospital.

Hardin and the third-grader's grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, were charged Wednesday with felony murder and were being held in the Etowah County Detention Center until they could raise $500,000 bail each.

The girl's father, who had custody, was not home at the time, Barton said, adding that there were no prior reports of abuse.

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