An Etowah County circuit judge ordered Monday that all files pertaining to the Savannah Hardin case, with the exception of a single psychological evaluation, are subject to the open records law and will be unsealed.
Investigators say nine-year-old Savannah died after her grandmother allegedly ran her to death as punishment for eating a candy bar. Her stepmother was also arrested for not stepping in and stopping the punishment. Savannah's grandmother, Joyce Garrard, and her stepmother, Jessica Hardin, are both charged with murder. They are behind bars in the Etowah County Detention Center on bonds of $500,000 each.
16th Circuit Court Presiding Judge Allen Millican ordered the documents sealed on Thursday, Feb. 23 in order to review them during the weekend.
Monday, Feb. 27, Judge Millican issued an order stating that after reviewing the documents and conferencing with attorneys for both the defendants and the Etowah County District Attorney, "the Court has determined that said documents are a matter of Public Record and are subject to the Open Records Law."
The single exception to the open records law is a psychological evaluation of Savannah Hardin that, according to Judge Millican's order, "was not contained in the open file, was not subject to public review and is deemed privileged information by the Court."
Etowah County D.A. Jimmie Harp issued the following statement in response to Judge Millican's decision to unseal the documents:
"I appreciate Judge Millican spending the weekend reviewing the files and we agree with his order. It is important that all parties in this matter receive a fair trial, and the court's review was a necessary step in ensuring just that," Harp said.
Here are links to the court documents unsealed today by Judge Millican:
Copyright 2012 WBRC. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive