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2 women plead not guilty in girl’s running death

Associated Press

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) – Two women have pleaded not guilty in the death of a 9-year-old Alabama girl who authorities say was run to death as punishment for lying.

Wednesday’s arraignment of the girl’s 46-year-old grandmother Joyce Hardin Garrard and 27-year-old stepmother Jessica Mae Hardin took place in Etowah County Circuit Judge William Ogletree’s courtroom.

Authorities say Savannah Hardin collapsed and later died after being forced to run and haul debris for three hours as punishment for a lie about candy. Attorneys for both women say they are innocent and predict they’ll be vindicated.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Garrard. Hardin faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

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