Stepmom charged with running child to death gives birth

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Joyce Hardin Garrard and Jessica Mae Hardin (left to right)

ETOWAH CO., Ala — An Alabama woman charged with murdering her 9-year-old stepdaughter has given birth, reports said Thursday.

Jessica Mae Hardin, 27 and Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, are charged with murdering Savannah Hardin by forcing her to run around her family’s house for three hours as punishment for lying about taking a candy bar. The girl was Garrard’s granddaughter.

Savannah died Monday.

At the time of Hardin’s arrest, she was pregnant, according to Natalie Barton, spokeswoman for the Etowah County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday morning, Hardin was in a local hospital.

Due to medical privacy laws, Barton said she could not state why Hardin was in the hospital.

But CNN affiliate WBRC said Hardin gave birth “in a Gadsden hospital while under the guard of sheriff’s deputies.”

Garrard and Hardin are being held in the Etowah County Detention Center on $500,000 cash bond.

On Friday, Savannah apparently ate a candy bar while on a school bus. Authorities said the young girl had a bladder condition that could have been worsened by eating the candy, according to WBRC.

At about 6:45 p.m., Hardin called 911 and said that Savannah had suffered a seizure and was unresponsive, Sheriff Todd Entrekin said in a news release.

Savannah died at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. A state pathologist in Huntsville ruled her death a homicide. “Preliminary reports show Savannah was extremely dehydrated and had a very low sodium level,” the release says.

Entrekin’s office became involved after witnesses called investigators to express concerns. “We have always said that we will protect the rights of those who cannot defend themselves,” he continued.

Savannah was a third-grade student at Carlisle Elementary School.

(By Josh Levs and Rick Martin, CNN)

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