'Drill Sergeant From Hell' Dies in Prison

Joyce Garrard was convicted of punishing granddaughter to death
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2016 4:40 PM CST
'Drill Sergeant From Hell' Dies in Prison
In this March 20, 2015, file photo, Joyce Hardin Garrard is led back to the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Ala.   (Eric T. Wright/The Gadsden Times via AP, File)

An Alabama woman convicted of punishing her 9-year-old granddaughter until the girl vomited, collapsed, and died has herself died in prison, the Washington Post reports. Joyce Garrard, 50—dubbed by prosecutors the "drill sergeant from hell"—suffered a heart attack last Sunday after a family visit and died on Friday. "This is another loss for a family that already has lost so much," an attorney who defended Garrard in court last year tells the AP. Garrard was convicted of capital murder in March for the death of granddaughter Savannah Hardin, who was apparently forced to run for over three hours one day in 2012 for stealing candy bars and lying about it, AL.com reports.

Neighbors across the street in rural northeastern Alabama heard a woman yelling at Savannah and caught glimpses of the girl running, AL.com reported last year. "Keep running," neighbor Chad Jacobs testified that he heard Garrard shout. "I didn't tell you to stop!" Savannah collapsed of a seizure hours later and eventually died of what pathologists described as prolonged physical exertion. Garrard claimed she was only making the child run and pick up sticks as punishment while they discussed the value of truth-telling, but a jury sentenced her to life without parole. "She was tortured," a prosecuting attorney said of Savannah's death in her closing argument. (Read more heart attack stories.)

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