The woman accused of running Savannah Hardin to death for telling a lie may now face the death penalty.
New evidence has emerged that shows the brutality 9-year-old Savannah faced before she died. A surveillance camera on the school bus she rode home shows the girl's grandmother, Joyce Garrad, telling the driver she planned to run the child "til she can't run no more."
A prosecutor in the case has told the judge he intends to file capital murder charges, which means that Garrad could face the death penalty if found guilty. After showing the bus driver's video, Marcus Reid, the assistant district attorney told the court, "That's exactly what she did" and called Garrad "a drill sergeant from hell."
Reports presented in the initial hearing show that Hardin had a very difficult and abusive life. She frequently required medical attention for suspicious reasons. The Huffington Post has said that Hardin's family was being investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families and had been to the home at least four times between 2007 and 2009.
Natalie Barton, a spokeswoman for the Etowah County Sheriff's office has publicly stated that Garrad began running the girl after she returned home from school. As Savannah ran, Garrad yelled, "Move it, move it, move it! Go, go, go!" No one bothered to intervene and stop the abuse, though, and Savannah collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion three hours later.
Her mother, Jessica Hardin, finally called the ambulance, but Savannah passed away from a dehydration-related seizure. Both Hardin and Garrad are in prison awaiting trial. Savannah's younger siblings are being cared for by relatives at this time, having been removed from Hardin's home.
Savannah is remembered as "an excellent student…and a happy child at school. She always wore a smile, and often brightened the day of teachers and administrators with her kind comments," noted Principal Linda Johnson. Students and family friends made a makeshift memorial outside of the school to honor Savannah.