Case of Phoenix girl who died in footlocker
John Allen’s decision to punish 10-year-old Ame Deal by locking the child in a box and leaving her to die inside was enough for a jury to decide he deserves to be sentenced to death by lethal injection under Arizona law.
The verdict in the sentencing phase of Allen’s trial was returned Thursday afternoon, with jurors deciding that the aggravating factors in the case outweighed anything that should result in a life prison sentence instead.
After the sentencing decision was returned, Allen apologized.
“I want to say that I’m sorry,” Allen said. “What happened was an accident. I’m an idiot. I’m a jerk. It was an accident. I’m sorry to Ame, I’m sorry to her family. I think that’s all.”
Allen was convicted Nov. 8 of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse in the July 2011 death of Ame.
In addition to the death verdict, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Erin O’Brien Otis sentenced Allen to 60½ years in prison for the three child-abuse counts and the one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse. Allen was credited for 2,303 days for the time he has been serving while awaiting trial.
“In my entire career, I haven’t seen too many cases that have been worse than this one,” Otis said. “One of the most unnecessary deaths of a child I’ve seen.”
Allen’s wife, Sammantha Allen, who was convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse in June, also was sentenced to death in August.
MORE: Sammantha Allen sentenced to death for murder of cousin
Both Allens were arrested in July 2011 after Sammantha’s cousin Ame was found at their Phoenix home dead in a plastic box that they had locked her in as punishment for stealing a Popsicle.
John Allen is the fifth person convicted in the case.
Judith Deal, Ame’s grandmother, was convicted of child abuse and is serving a 10-year sentence. Cynthia Stoltzman, Ame’s aunt and legal guardian, is serving 24 years for child abuse in the case. Ame’s father, David Deal, is serving 14 years for child abuse.
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