Stepmother may make plea in Alabama girl's death

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GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) – A defense attorney says a plea deal may be in the works for the stepmother of a 9-year-old Alabama girl who prosecutors say was run to death as punishment for lying.

Richard Rhea indicated during a court hearing that talks between 28-year-old Jessica Mae Hardin and prosecutors may be under way.  Rhea represents the dead girl’s grandmother, 47-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard.

Authorities say Garrard forced Savannah Hardin to run for about three hours in February as punishment for a lie, and Hardin failed to intervene. The girl collapsed and died three days later. Both women say they are innocent.

Hardin had a baby after her arrest and was in court asking a judge to reduce her $500,000 bond. The hearing was adjourned with no ruling.

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