Sentencing has begun for an evil grandmother who tortured her eight-year-old granddaughter to death.
Helen Ford was convicted of first degree murder in March for her granddaughter Gizzell Ford’s 2013 death.
The 55-year-old’s sentencing hearing began in Chicago on Wednesday.
As she was convicted earlier this year, a judge told Ford: ‘This murder was torture. That child suffered a slow and agonizing death.
’That little body looked like it had been pulverized from head to toe… Her treatment (of Gizzell) was evil.’
On Wednesday, she entered the courtroom with a cane in one hand. No cameras were allowed in for the proceedings.
A judge denied her lawyer’s request for a new trial and dismissed her appeal to reconsider her first-degree murder conviction.
Around a dozen people were in court to support her. She waved and smiled at them as she made her frail entry, The Chicago Sun Times reported from court.
Her lawyers questioned the medical examiner’s ruling that Gizzell died from strangulation.
A video monitor was wheeled in as part of the proceedings, presumably to show the jury footage of some of the torture which Helen and her son sickeningly recorded.
A clerk from Gizzell’s school testified for the state. They described the child as intelligent and ambitious.
Gizell was living with her grandmother and her father Andre for eight months when she died.
Andre was a convicted felon and had a chronic degenerative disease.
The pair tortured her by pulling clumps of her hair out and beating her. When paramedics forced their way into the home after receiving reports of a girl who was not breathing, they found Gizzell lying face down on a bloody pillow wearing just a pair of ripped green underwear.
A gaping wound at the back of her head was infested with maggots and the cause of death was given as strangulation. She had ligature marks on her hands and legs and traces of semen were also found on her body.
Andre was charged with murder along with his mother but he died in police custody in 2014.
Helen tried to explain away the abuse before her conviction, telling a court through her lawyer that she was overwhelmed by having to care for both her son and granddaughter.
Gizzell chronicled the torture in heartbreaking diary entries.
Once happy descriptions of herself as ‘smart, courageous and beautiful’ turned self-loathing when she went to live with the evil pair.
‘I hate this life. I really think that I’m a jerk,’ she wrote in one entry shortly before her death.
She described being made to squat for hours and wrote innocently: ‘I know if I be good and do everything I’m told I won’t have to do punishments.’
Her depraved abusers tied her to her father’s bed for days on end, depriving her of food and drink and punishing her for trying to take water from the toilet bowl.
Helen constantly threatened violence with a belt she wore around her neck.
When Gizzell was found, she weighed just 70lbs. During Helen’s trial, the girl’s siblings and cousins testified that they had watched her forcing a sock into Gizzell’s mouth while making her stand on one foot with her arms out.
Her monstrous father filmed her doing squats, speaking from behind the camera to call her ‘defiant. Relatives said that Gizzell tried to take her own life by jumping out of the window of their home but was stopped by Helen.
After her death, The Chicago Tribune revealed that social workers visited the West Chicago home where she eventually perished a month before her murder.
The child had been sent to live there when her mother was declared homeless. She is now suing social services for putting her daughter at risk of harm.
When paramedics were called to their home in July 2013, Helen tried to stop them from coming in.
It’s not clear who initially reported the emergency but someone had phoned 911 to report a child having difficulty breathing.
Upon their arrival, Helen Ford said Gizzell had been having one of her ‘fits’ but had recovered.
The EMTs pushed their way in and found the child lying lifeless, tied next to her father’s bed. Andre was lying on the bed in his underwear and holding a laptop.
Blood was found on the pillow next to Gizzell and had been splattered across a TV which was switched on.
The paramedics said she had likely been dead for some time.