Chicago resident Helen Ford was sentenced to life on Wednesday for the torture killing of her own granddaughter in 2013.
Before her sentencing, the grandmother took the stand and actually tried to convince the judge that the 8-year-old Gizzell Ford had injured herself. According to the Chicago Tribune, the girl was found half-naked, strangled and beaten from head to toe. Helen Ford was convicted in March of first-degree murder.
"Gizzell got to the point that she was throwing herself around," the 55-year-old grandmother told Judge Evelyn Clay.
"Ms. Ford, enough. Enough!" Clay responded, according to the Chicago Tribune. When Ford returned to her seat at the defense table, Clay sentenced her to life in prison. The judge stated that Ford has "practically zero potential for rehabilitation," and pointed to Ford's lack of remorse on the witness stand.
"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."
Clay also responded to Ford’s attempt to blame the abuse on the little girl.
"No, (Gizzell) did not throw herself around, which brought about her death," the judge said. "That child's murder was intentional (and) involved the infliction of torture."
The girl, a straight A student, had been tied to a post and denied food and water. According to reports, she was forced to squat or stand for hours at a time. Gizzell Ford was also whipped with a belt and used as a "punching bag," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Prosecutors alleged that the young girl was dying of kidney failure before she was strangled because her grandmother and father denied her food and water, according to a report by NBC Chicago. Graphic photos of the fourth-grader and video of the abuse were presented during the sentencing hearing. The cellphone video showed Helen Ford and and her son Andre Ford, the girl’s father, berating the girl while she was topless, with a cloth stuffed in her mouth. Andre Ford was charged with murder but died in jail awaiting trial.
Also presented in court, were excerpts from Gizzell Ford’s journal.
"I know if I be good and do everything I'm told I won't have to do punishments," Gizzell Ford wrote in one entry.
In another entry towards the end of her life she wrote, "I hate this life because now I'm in super big trouble.”
An Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigator visited the home a month before Gizzell Ford’s death. A doctor found a suspicious injury weeks before the murder but the doctor didn't report suspected abuse, according to NBC Chicago.
[Cook County Jail]