Jury chosen in Alabama woman's trial in girl's running death
Mar. 06, 2015
GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A jury was selected Friday for the trial of an Alabama woman charged with capital murder in the death of her 9-year-old granddaughter, who prosecutors say was run to death as punishment for a lie about eating candy.
The judge told jurors to stay away from all news reports and social media over the weekend and to report back to court Monday for opening statements.
Joyce Hardin Garrard, 49, of Boaz could be sentenced either to death or life without parole if convicted in the death three years ago of Savanah Hardin.
Authorities contend Garrard made the child run around the yard of her rural home and carry wood for hours as punishment for a fib. The girl collapsed and died days later in a hospital.
Garrard says she is innocent, and her lawyers have said she didn't mean to harm Savannah in any way.
Court filings and arguments during hearings show that the panel of 10 men and six women — 12 jurors and four alternates — will hear evidence about what happened the day the girl collapsed and about her autopsy.
Etowah County Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree, who has barred attorneys from talking to the media, told jurors they will get to sleep at home during the trial. But he warned they could be sequestered if anyone violates rules that include staying off networking sites including Facebook.
"No social media whatsoever," said Ogletree.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers selected the jury after the judge refused defense motions to delay and move the trial, which Garrard's lawyers argued should be held in another county because virtually all potential jurors said they were familiar with the case.
The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, is awaiting trial on a murder charge in the girl's death. Authorities said she sat by without intervening while the older woman forced the girl to run until she dropped.