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Trial begins for Alabama woman accused of running 9-year-old granddaughter to death

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An Alabama woman accused of running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death as punishment for eating forbidden chocolates and lying about it was set to go on trial on Monday.

Joyce Hardin Garrard, 49, stands accused of forcing Savannah Hardin to run non-stop for three hours in February 2012. Authorities say the girl collapsed, went into seizures and died days later at a Birmingham hospital.

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Hardin died from dehydration and low sodium, a condition common in marathon runners, Etowah County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Natalie Barton said.

Hardin suffered from unspecified medical issues that resulted in frequent doctors visits, according to court documents.

Defense attorneys have said that it was the girl’s medical condition, and not the punishment, that caused her death.

Hardin’s stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, is also charged in the case, with witnessing the punishment and failing to intervene.

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Defense attorney Dani Bone did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The girl lived with her father, whose mother is accused in her death. He frequently traveled for work and was out of town at the time of the incident, authorities said.

A third grader, Hardin was a successful student, said Alan Cosby, superintendent of the Etowah County Schools.

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“She was a very pleasant, nice young lady,” Cosby said.

(Reporting by Verna Gates; Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Ruth Pitchford)


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WATCH: Ben Carson thanks God for Trump in bizarre prayer — and then asks Him to ‘Keep America Great’

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Monday opened up the White House cabinet meeting with a bizarre prayer that explicitly thanked God for the existence of President Donald Trump.

Carson began his prayer with a standard invocation thanking God for "the blessings that you have bestowed upon this country."

After that, though, Carson gave God a thumbs-up for the work He's done in putting Trump in the White House.

"We thank You for President Trump, who also exhibits great courage in face of constant criticism," Carson said. "We ask you give him strength to endure and wisdom to lead and to recognize you as the sovereign of the universe, with the solution to everything."

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Bill Barr sparks anxiety within the CIA as he investigates ‘origins’ of Mueller’s Russia probe: security analyst

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As the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, investigates the origins of the Russia investigation, some CIA operatives who played a role in gathering intelligence for Robert Mueller's probe are hiring lawyers, according to NBC News national security reporter Ken Dilanian.

According to various reports, President Trump has granted Barr with "expansive powers" for the investigation and he's reportedly seeking to question CIA analysts.

Speaking to MSNBC's Morning Joe this Monday, Dilanian said that while it's not clear what Barr's intentions are, many in the CIA are "very rattled" at the news.

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White House personnel chief delivers a new blow to Trump: Top DHS candidates are not legally qualified

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President Donald Trump's quest to find an acting replacement for departed Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen was dealt a significant blow on Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House personnel office chief Sean Doocey has informed the president that he doesn't believe either of his top two picks are legally qualified to hold the position.

As the Journal notes, "federal statute that governs vacancies states that acting officials in cabinet-level positions must either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position." Neither Ken Cuccinelli, who heads the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, nor Mark Morgan, who leads Customs and Border Protection, meet those standards, Doocey determined.

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