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Stepmother, grandmother charged in Ala. girl’s death

GADSDEN, Ala. - The grandmother and stepmother of a 9-year-old Alabama girl who died after she was allegedly forced to run for three hours as punishment for lying have been charged with murder and are being held in jail.

Witnesses told police that Savannah Hardin was told to run and not allowed to stop for three hours last Friday, an Etowah County sheriff’s office spokeswoman said. The girl’s stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, called police at 6:45 p.m., telling authorities that Savannah was having a seizure and was unresponsive.

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Savannah Hardin died Monday at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities said Jessica Mae Hardin and Savannah’s grandmother, 46-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard, were arrested after the death was ruled a homicide by a state pathologist.

The sheriff’s office said the autopsy report showed the girl was extremely dehydrated and had a very low sodium level.

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