Life or death: Judge to sentence Alabama woman who ran granddaughter to death
Joyce Hardin Garrard is seen in a booking photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff?s Office in Etowah County, Alabama on February 23, 2012. REUTERS/Etowah County Sheriff's Office/Handout

An Alabama woman convicted of running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death was set to learn on Monday whether she faces the rest of her life in prison or a sentence of death.


The jury that in March convicted Joyce Garrard of murder in the 2012 death of Savannah Hardin recommended she be spared the death penalty. But the ultimate decision rests with the Etowah County judge in the case, William Ogletree.

Garrard made Hardin run for almost three hours while carrying wood as punishment for lying about having eaten chocolates before the girl collapsed and went into seizures, prosecutors have said.

The girl died days later in hospital from dehydration and low sodium.

Garrard said in a conversation with the girl's school bus driver captured on a bus video that "she's going to run till I tell her to stop," as punishment.

Hardin had a bladder condition and was not allowed to have sweets or caffeine, Garrard told the bus driver.

After the guilty verdict, Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp said he was pleased with the outcome and would ask the judge to accept the jury's recommended sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, has also been charged with murder, with authorities saying she witnessed the punishment and failed to intervene.