Media reports indicate that a 9-year-old girl in Alabama died after being forced to run for three hours as punishment for eating a bar of chocolate.
Savannah Hardin's stepmother and grandmother found out that she'd eaten the candy without permission, according to police, and punished her by making her run while they looked on. The third-grader suffered seizures and died.
AdvertisementHours after being arrested in connection with the girl's death, the stepmother gave birth. She remains under guard at an Alabama hospital.
Prosecutors in the case may reportedly seek death penalty.
According to the Etowah County Sheriff's Department, Hardin had admitted that she'd eaten a candy bar that a friend had given her on the bus.
As punishment, her paternal grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, and her stepmother, Jessica Hardin, 27, made her run around the yard from 3 pm to 6 pm
About 45 minutes later, the stepmother called 911 to report that the girl was convulsing. She was rushed to the hospital and remained there until Monday when she died, due in part to dehydration, authorities said.
"She was 65 pounds, and basically she was caused to undergo physical exertion to the point where she just dehydrated and her electrolyte levels got to the point where she couldn't sustain life," the LA Times quoted District Attorney Jimmie Harp as telling WHNT News.
The two women have been charged with murder.
Relatives say Savannah had a bladder condition and wasn't supposed to eat chocolate because of its caffeine content. However, another prosecutor in the case told local media there was no evidence of such a preexisting medical condition.
Her father is said to be employed by the federal government overseas. Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin said that the man had to take eight flights to get home so he could see his daughter before she was taken off the respirator keeping her alive.
"Our heart goes out to him... He's overseas working for his family and for the government. He comes home and now he's got a daughter dead, a wife in jail, and a mother in jail," Entrekin said.
Child welfare authorities have reportedly stepped in to oversee the care of the newborn, as well as the girl's 3-year-old brother, Harp.
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