Homicide

Stepmother pleads guilty in running death of Alabama girl

This Jan. 7, 2013, photo provided by the Etowah County Sheriff's Office in Gadsden, Ala., shows Jessica Mae Hardin, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the running death of her 9-year-old stepdaughter. (Etowah County Sheriff's Office via AP)

This Jan. 7, 2013, photo provided by the Etowah County Sheriff's Office in Gadsden, Ala., shows Jessica Mae Hardin, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the running death of her 9-year-old stepdaughter. (Etowah County Sheriff's Office via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Alabama prosecutors say the stepmother of a 9-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the child's running death.

A statement from Etowah County authorities says 31-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse Friday for the mistreatment of Savannah Hardin. She had been charged with murder.

The child died in 2012 after running for hours as punishment for a lie about eating candy. Her grandmother was previously convicted of capital murder and died in prison in February while serving a term of life without parole.

Prosecutors accused Hardin of not intervening to protect the child during the ordeal. Hardin spent nearly a year in jail after being arrested and won't have to spend additional time in custody under an agreement with authorities.