Joyce Garrard found guilty of capital murder in running death of 9-year-old granddaughter

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ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Joyce Garrard was found guilty of capital murder by a jury Friday night, ABC 33/40 is reporting.

Closing arguments took place earlier Friday morning in the capital murder trial of Joyce Garrard. She was charged in connection with the death of her 9-year-old granddaughter in Etowah County.

Jurors at the Etowah County Courthouse have spent all week listening to testimony from neighbors and even Savannah Hardin’s mother. Joyce Garrard herself also took the stand in her own defense. She was the last person to testify.

The 49-year-old told the court she would rather die than hurt her granddaughter. Garrard is accused of making Savannah Hardin run as punishment for telling a lie.  Prosecutors say Savannah eventually collapsed from exhaustion and later died.

Savannah’s mother, Heather Walker, says Garrard tried to keep her from being alone with Savannah while in the hospital.  She says Garrard also repeatedly changed her story about what happened.  Garrard says she made Savannah pick up sticks in the yard and was with her the whole time explaining the importance of telling the truth. However, prosecutors pointed to surveillance video they say proves otherwise.

Garrard faces a death sentence or life without parole. Jurors will return to the courtroom Monday with their recommended sentence.