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Alabama judge refuses to dismiss charge against woman in granddaughter's running death

A judge refused Friday to dismiss a capital murder charge against an Alabama woman accused in the death of her 9-year-old granddaughter, who prosecutors say was run to death as punishment for a lie.

An Etowah County judge also refused again to set bond for Joyce Garrard, who has been jailed about two years awaiting trial.

Garrard, 48, is accused of forcing Savannah Hardin two years ago to run around her yard for three hours as punishment for a fib about eating candy.

The girl collapsed and later died.

The child's father, Robert Hardin, filed a malpractice suit this week against Gadsden Regional Medical Center over its treatment of the girl.

Hardin's lawsuit claims the Gadsden hospital failed to properly treat the girl for low sodium levels after her collapse.

The suit's allegations are similar to arguments made by Garrard's defense attorney, Dani Bone, during a hearing before Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree.

"Medical records will show that Gadsden Regional was the cause of death of Savannah Hardin," Bone said. "Evidence shows that Joyce Garrard didn't cause the death or the intentional death of (Savannah)."

A hospital spokeswoman didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The child was transferred from Gadsden Regional to another hospital in Birmingham, Children's of Alabama, where she died three days later.

The girl's stepmother, Jessica Hardin, also is charged with murder in her death and is free on bond. Prosecutors contend the woman contributed to the child's death by failing to intervene when Garrard forced her to run.

Ogletree said he would rule later on a defense request to move the trial to another county. Garrard's trial is set to begin June 23.

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