A Chicago woman will serve the rest of her life behind bars for murdering her 8-year-old granddaughter and subjecting her to heinous abuse.
Cook County Judge Evelyn Clay sentenced 55-year-old Helen Ford to life in prison for torturing and strangling the girl to death in 2013, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Before she died, Gizzell Ford had been tied to a post, beaten head to toe, whipped with a belt, forced to stand or squat for hours and was denied food and water.
In one instance, Gizzell was punished for trying to sneak a drink of water from a toilet, according to the Tribune.
Her 70-pound body was found in the family’s trash-strewn apartment with maggots attached to her skull and with scrapes, bruises and lacerations all over.
She was, as prosecutors put it, a “punching bag.”
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) June 7, 2017
Gizzell had kept a diary of the abuse, excerpts of which were presented during a sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
In one journal entry from summer 2013, the straight-A student said she looked forward to school starting so she could find respite in class. She wrote about being forced to squat for half a day and then having to stand for long periods of time at home.
“I know if I be good and do everything I’m told I won’t have to do punishments,” the girl wrote.
Prosecutors played a cellphone video in court showing Helen Ford and her son, Andre Ford, the girl’s father, scolding the girl; she appeared “disoriented and topless with cloth stuffed in her mouth,” according to the Tribune.
The girl’s kidneys were failing because she had been deprived of water and food for so long, authorities said.
Ford testified Wednesday that she was a loving grandmother and the girl was injured because she was “throwing herself around.” Defense attorneys argued that the grandmother had good intentions but was overwhelmed with caring for other grandchildren and Andre Ford, who was chronically ill at the time.
Clay, the judge, rejected those arguments. She handed down a sentence of life in prison, the most severe punishment possible in the case.
“This was a heinous torture murder which took place slowly, while Gizzell was imprisoned in Helen Ford’s apartment,” Clay said. “This was a deliberate, excruciating, painful way to die.
“The sentencing comes after Ford was convicted of first-degree murder in March. Andre Ford also was charged in the killing, but he died in jail in 2014 of an apparent heart attack before trial.
About a month prior to the girl’s death, a child welfare investigator visited the grandmother’s apartment, which was infested with cockroaches, to check out allegations that the girl had been raped by her mother’s boyfriend.
The girl had wounds and bruises all over her body, but the investigator “reported nothing out of the ordinary beyond a cluttered home,” the Tribune reports.
In journal entries toward the end of her life, Gizzell’s handwriting became nearly illegible, according the Tribune.
“I hate this life because now I’m in super big trouble,” Gizzell wrote on July 11, 2013.Her body would be found two days later.
Feature Photo: ABC Screenshot