Etowah County DA: Woman charged in granddaughter's running death lied to first responders
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) An Alabama woman charged with running her 9-year-old granddaughter to death as punishment wasn't truthful about events that led to the child's collapse, prosecutors contend. A motion filed by Etowah County prosecutors Thursday said Joyce Garrard, 49, is trying to prevent jurors from finding out she misled first responders and medical workers about what happened to Savannah Hardin. Garrard is charged with capital murder in the death. Prosecutors are opposing a request filed earlier by the defense to prevent jurors from hearing any of the woman's statements after emergency officials arrived to care for the girl. The district attorney's office said there is "absolutely no legal basis for excluding statements from evidence because the statements may make the jury believe that the defendant committed the crime for which she is charged." "Clearly, (Garrard) wishes to prevent the jury in this case from learning that she did not respond truthfully to the questions that were posed to her by first responders and medical professionals concerning the incidents leading up to Savannah's collapse," prosecutors said. The defense has not filed a response to the motion. Lawyers can't comment publicly in the case because of a gag order issued by Circuit Judge William Ogletree. Ogletree could consider the pleadings and other motions at a hearing set for Monday in Gadsden. Garrard faces a possible death sentence if convicted in the death of the child. Prosecutors say the woman made the girl run for hours as punishment for a lie about eating candy. The child collapsed outside Garrard's rural home and died three days later in a hospital. Garrard denied being responsible, and her lawyers have suggested longstanding medical problems and mistreatment led to the girl's death. Originally scheduled for this month, Garrard's trial is now set for Sept. 22. She has been jailed since her arrest in February 2012. The child's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, also is charged with murder for allegedly allowing abuse to occur and failing to intervene. She is free on bond.