Slain girl kept diary of abuse by grandmother

A Chicago woman whose granddaughter wrote in a diary throughout the torturous abuse she suffered has been convicted of the girl's murder.

A Cook County judge convicted 55-year-old Helen Ford on Thursday of first degree murder in the beating death of her 8-year-old granddaughter, Gizzell Ford.

Prosecutors argued that the girl, nicknamed Gizzy, was routinely and ruthlessly beaten by her grandmother. She was found dead in July 2013 and details of the gruesome state of her body were later released along with pages from the once-promising student's diary.

During the bench trial, a medical examiner told the judge that hair on Gizzy's head had been pulled out and described a gaping wound that had been infested with maggots while she was still alive.

Gizzy's half-brother and cousin testified in the case and described some of the harrowing abuse the little girl endured, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The younger half-brother described how Gizzy was forced to eat hot peppers and stand on one foot while holding her arms out with a sock stuffed in her mouth.

Her cousin told the court Gizzy was tied to her father's bed for up to a week at a time and denied food and water and only allowed off to use the bathroom, when she was once punished for being caught trying to drink from the toilet.

In the months leading to her death, Gizzy documented in her diary the abuse she experienced in the home on Chicago's west side.

"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.

"I am going to be a beautiful smart and good young lady. I can do anything I put my... smart mind to. People say I'm smart and courageous and beautiful."

But later, Gizzy wrote a heartbreaking addendum: "Not true... I failed."

On July 11, she wrote: "I hate this life because now I'm in super big trouble."

Two days later, the girl who was once a straight A student was found "cold" by police following calls of a person not breathing in the home.

Her father also lived in the home and was charged with murder but died of an apparent heart attack while awaiting trial.

Helen Ford faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.