Case of Phoenix girl who died in footlocker
Corrections & clarifications: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect name for a defense attorney. The story has been updated to reflect the correct attorney, John Curry.
Jurors in the trial of a woman charged in the death of 10-year-old Ame Deal, who suffocated while padlocked inside a storage bin in Phoenix in July 2011, were given a warning before the second day of testimony: their emotions cannot play a role in deciding the case.
At least one juror openly cried and many looked away as graphic photos of the girl’s dead body were shown to them for the first time.
Ame’s cousin Sammantha Lucille Rebecca Allen, 28, is on trial in Maricopa County Superior Court for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit child abuse, and three counts of child abuse.
She and her husband, John Michael Allen, are the only people still facing charges in Ame’s death. Three other relatives were convicted of abusing Ame and are currently in prison.
Here are the takeaways from the Tuesday morning session.
Photos of Ame’s body shown in court
Photographic evidence police captured at Allen’s south Phoenix home on July 12, 2011, showed the blond girl laid out on a blue towel next to the box.
The images were so disturbing for some that they hung their heads low as the images flashed above.
Close-up photos of her hands showed them in a claw-like position. Her lips were tinged yellow, and her knees had been pulled up toward her chest. The bottoms of the girl’s feet were caked in dirt.
Ame’s body was wet and her hair matted. There had been just under one inch of brown liquid in the box.
Bruises, abrasions on body
Close-up photos of Ame’s legs shown on a big screen revealed multiple bruises and red indentations on her knees.
Retired Phoenix police Detective Kenny Porter told jurors Tuesday morning that evidence showed signs that the ribbing on the box’s lid had pushed against the girl’s skin for a long time.
“She was inside the box with her legs drawn up so she could fit,” Porter said.
“Could she fit stretched out? Obviously not. Folded up? Yes.” he said.
The bin was 31 inches long. Ame was 51 inches tall.
ROBERTS: Remember Ame Deal, Arizona
A photo of Ame’s lifted chin revealed red marks on her neck, along with dirt and debris. Her eyelids were lifted to capture hemorrhaging.
How hot was it inside the box?
Porter told the court that he placed a thermometer inside the box and closed the lid for 5 minutes to read the temperature.
It was 97 degrees inside. The home was also hot, he said, at 95 degrees.
One of the defense attorneys, John Curry, questioned the accuracy of the temperature, based on the fact that the crime specialist assigned to take photos of the scene didn’t check the time settings of her camera.
In a long-winded tactic, Curry argued that the temperature couldn’t be trusted if the time stamps on the photos weren’t accurate.
Pulling up the digital images, he displayed the discrepancies of the time stamps with the logged time of the evidence.
The crime specialist stated that checking the setting of her camera was not a routine procedure.
Box and mannequin introduced in court
Maricopa County Deputy County Attorney Jeannette Gallagher brought out the box in which Ame was alleged to have been locked before her death.
It was encased in plastic to preserve the evidence, so Gallagher also brought out a replica of the box and a mannequin with the same measurements of Ame.
A demonstration was expected to take place when court resumes Tuesday afternoon.
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