Police: Girl forced to run 3 hours dies; 2 charged


ATTALLA, Ala. (AP) — At a doublewide trailer along a dirt road in rural Alabama, authorities say 9-year-old Savannah Hardin was forced to run for three hours as punishment for having lied to her grandmother about eating candy bars.

The severely dehydrated girl had a seizure and her death days later was ruled a homicide.

Her grandmother and stepmother who police say meted out the punishment are in jail, facing murder charges today.

Witnesses told deputies that Savannah was told to run and not allowed to stop for three hours on Friday, an Etowah County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said. The girl's stepmother, 27-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin, called police at 6:45 p.m., telling them that Savannah was having a seizure and was unresponsive.

Neighbor Roger Simpson said he saw a little girl running at around 4 p.m., but didn't see anybody chasing or coercing her.

"I saw her running down there, that's what I told the detectives," Simpson said from his home on a hill overlooking the Hardins. "But I don't see how that would kill her."

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