An 8-year-old girl brutally beaten to death by her grandmother was found with maggots living in an open head wound that had gone untreated, a Illinois court heard.
Helen Ford, 55, of Chicago was convicted today of first-degree murder for the torture and killing of Gizzell "Gizzy" Ford on July 13, 2013.
Gizzy's strangled and badly bruised body was found on her father's bedroom floor, clad only in torn underwear with much of her hair pulled out.
Gizzy led a tortured life of fear, abuse and neglect leading up to her tragic death, according to her diary entries, presented to the court during the trail.
"I hate this life because now I'm in super big trouble," she wrote on July 11 while her two cousins were away at summer camp, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In another entry, two weeks before she died, she wrote: "I hope that I don't mess up today because I really want to be able to just sit down, watch TV, talk and play with everybody. I am going to be great all day. Love, G.F."
But later, Gizzy added a note in pencil: "Not true. I failed."
Gizzy lived with her father, Andre Ford, and paternal grandmother in an apartment on Chicago's West Side.
Her father, a convicted felon, was awarded temporary custody after saying Gizzy's mother was homeless.
In the care of her grandmother and father, Gizzy wrote of her pain after being forced to squat in place for half the day and then stand for "an hour or two".
At Ford's trial, the court was played videos taken by Andre Ford showing him berating his emaciated child for breaking the rules. She often had a sock or rag stuffed into her mouth in these videos.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the court heard Gizzy was tied to her dad's bed for days, denied food and water, and reprimanded for trying to sneak a drink from the toilet.
The court heard Gizzy tried to take her own life last year, but was stopped by her grandmother.
Gizzy's father, bedridden with chronic scleroderma, died in jail of an apparent heart attack in August 2014 while awaiting trial, according to the Chicago Tribune.
According to the newspaper, a child abuse doctor for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services found a suspicious injury on Gizzy's buttocks weeks before her death but didn't report it.
Ford's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Judie Smith, said the grandmother was "overworked, overwhelmed and overcome" while caring for her son and three grandchildren.
Smith called Gizzy a "tragically troubled young lady" and suggested she'd inflicted her own injuries.
But other family members described Gizzy as a smart, chatty girl.