Running death: Grandmother wants charge dismissed

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Joyce Hardin Ran Her Daughter To Death
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Running death: Grandmother wants charge dismissed
In this image made from video, Joyce Garard is escorted by law enforcement officers to a court hearing in Gadsden, Ala., Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Circuit Judge William Ogletree refused to set bond for Garard as she awaits trial in the death of her of her 9-year-old granddaughter, Savannah Hardin, who prosecutors say was forced to run until she died. The girl was being punished for telling a lie in February 2012 when she collapsed. She died days later. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
FILE -- This combo made from file photos provided by the Etowah County Sheriff's Department shows Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, left, and Jessica Mae Hardin, 27. A judge refused bond Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 for Garrard, jailed for nearly two years while awaiting trial on charges she killed her granddaughter by making 9-year-old granddaughter Savannah Hardin run around their Etowah County home for about three hours for lying about eating a candy bar. The girl collapsed and died three days later. Garrard faces a capital murder charge. The girl's stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, who faces a charge of murder, is free on $150,000 bond.. Both women say they are innocent. (AP Photo/Etowah County Sheriff's Deptartment, File)
In this image made from video, Joyce Garard is escorted by law enforcement officers to a court hearing in Gadsden, Ala., Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Circuit Judge William Ogletree refused to set bond for Garard as she awaits trial in the death of her of her 9-year-old granddaughter, Savannah Hardin, who prosecutors say was forced to run until she died. The girl was being punished for telling a lie in February 2012 when she collapsed. She died days later. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAREND COPY ** FILE -- This 2006 photo provided by Patrick Blackwelder shows his former stepdaughter, Savannah Hardin. Authorities have charged Savannah Hardin’s paternal grandmother, Joyce Hardin Gerrard, and stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, with murder in her death. Police say the 9-year-old girl was run to death as punishment for lying, making it one of the top stories in Alabama for 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Blackwelder)
FILE- This 2006 file family photo provided by Patrick Blackwelder shows his former stepdaughter, Savannah Hardin. Authorities have charged Savannah Hardin’s paternal grandmother, Joyce Hardin Gerrard, and stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, with murder in her death. Police say the 9-year-old girl was run to death as punishment for lying. Experts say the hundreds of messages posted online since Savannah died in February show the legal system has yet to catch up with the social media explosion. They say it highlights the difficulty of making sure witnesses and jurors aren’t swayed by outside influences. (AP Photo/Family Photo, Patrick Blackwelder, File)
FILE - This file photo released by the Etowah County Sheriff's Dept. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 shows Jessica Mae Hardin, 27. Hardin is due in court Friday Sept. 22, 2012 for a hearing on a request to reduce her bond from $500,000 so she can be released. The stepmother of a 9-year-old Alabama girl who was allegedly run to death as punishment is asking a judge to lower her bond. (AP Photo/Etowah County Sheriff's Office, FILE)
Gail Denny places a candle and stuffed animal outside the home of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin near Attalla, Ala., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. Authorities say 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. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- An Alabama woman accused of running her granddaughter to death has asked an appeals court to dismiss a capital murder charge against her, citing potential autopsy problems and legal delays.

Lawyers for Joyce Garrard Hardin, 49, have filed papers with the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals saying they found numerous problems with the state's autopsy of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin in 2012.

Hardin has been jailed since Feb, 22, 2012, accused of making her granddaughter run for hours as punishment for a lie about candy. Authorities have said the girl was exhausted to the point of collapsing. She died three days later in a hospital.

The defense contends the child died because of long-standing health problems, adding testimony about the girl's physical condition and the autopsy could be vital at trial. Those lawyers have asked the appeals court to order a circuit judge in Alabama's Etowah County, William Ogletree, to throw out the charge.

Hardin has pleaded not guilty but faces a possible death penalty if convicted. Her trial is set to begin Feb. 12 in Gadsden; two previous trial dates were pushed back.

Prosecutors have yet to respond to the defense document, which was filed Oct. 28 in Montgomery. The document was released by the appeals court Thursday at the request of The Associated Press. The state has until later this month to file an answer with the appellate panel and is under a gag order barring out-of-court comments.

A petition filed by the defense contends the girl's autopsy was performed by a doctor who was later fired over allegations that included possible falsification of documents and dereliction of duty. The physician has since failed to testify in other cases and may not be available to testify in Hardin's trial, the defense argued in the document.

Hardin's trial has been delayed twice despite defense attempts to move the case along, the attorneys argued. They said in their document that the postponements violate the woman's constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Also, the defense claimed, Hardin is suffering from numerous health problems in the Etowah County jail and should be freed.

Ogletree has previously refused to dismiss charges against Hardin.

The child's stepmother is free on bond after being charged with murder for allegedly failing to intervene while the girl was running outside Hardin's rural home.

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