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Joyce Garrard, Grandmother Charged With Running Child to Death, Appears in Court

 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press
This undated photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff's Dept. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 shows 9-year-old Savannah Hardin.
This undated photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff's Dept. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 shows 9-year-old Savannah Hardin.Etowah County Sheriffs Office via AP file

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Lawyers for an Alabama woman, who is charged with forcing her 9-year-old granddaughter to run until she collapsed and died, shouldn't get to raise questions about the past of the doctor who performed the girl's autopsy, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

Etowah County prosecutors argued that attorneys for Joyce Hardin Garrard should be barred from delving into the reasons for why the doctor left state employment. The defense asked Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree to allow all relevant evidence in the trial, which will begin later this week with jury selection.

Questions about the autopsy and Garrard's intent could be vital because the defense blames the child's death on health issues aside from running and denies that the woman wanted to harm the child.

In court, the 59-year-old year old woman, plump and with a ponytail, looked like a typical grandmother aside from a jail uniform and shackles.

Her attorneys argue that Garrard's beloved granddaughter died because of other medical problems, not anything Garrard did. Authorities contend that Garrard in Feb. 2012 made the girl run for hours as punishment for a lie about eating candy. The child collapsed outside the family's rural home and died in a hospital three days later.

Jurors will begin sorting out the differing images and medical conclusions this week as Garrard goes on trial in the death three years ago of Savannah Hardin, a blond-haired girl known for her big smile and love of reading.

If convicted of capital murder, Garrard could join a handful of women on Alabama's death row.

The child's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, is also charged with murder and awaiting a separate trial. She's accused of sitting by as Garrard made made the child run and carry wood for about three hours as punishment for a lie about eating chocolate. No one has said whether Hardin will testify, but prosecutors have subpoenaed her as a potential witness.

This undated photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff's Dept. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 shows 9-year-old Savannah Hardin.
This undated photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff's Dept. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 shows 9-year-old Savannah Hardin.Etowah County Sheriffs Office via AP file

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