Case of Phoenix girl who died in footlocker

Attorneys wrapped up their final arguments Wednesday in the penalty phase of the John Allen murder trial, and jurors now will decide whether he should face the death penalty for the abuse and death of 10-year-old Ame Deal.

A Maricopa County Superior Court jury found Allen guilty on Nov. 8 of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse.

A jury has spent this week hearing arguments from Maricopa County prosecutors and weighing aggravating factors that could result in a death sentence, along with mitigating factors from defense lawyers that could instead justify a sentence of life in prison.

Ame Deal died in July 2011 after she was locked inside a box as punishment by Allen and his wife, Sammantha Allen. The child was left there overnight and died inside.

Sammantha Allen, Ame’s cousin, was convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse earlier this year and was sentenced to death. Several other relatives of Ame also have been sentenced on charges stemming from ongoing abuse of the Phoenix child.

On Tuesday, jurors accepted aggravating factors in John Allen’s case that included Ame’s age, a previous child-abuse offense and the “especially cruel, heinous or depraved” nature of the crime.

MORE: Jury finds John Allen guilty in death of Ame Deal

The defense acknowledged the severity of the crime, but argued that prison is a lenient sentence when compared with the death penalty and that not all first-degree-murder defendants are sentenced to death.

Jurors also are considering mitigating factors while deliberating between the death penalty or life in prison. Allen’s background, his character and his intention to not commit murder are the three factors being taken into consideration. 

Allen’s defense attorney told the jury there was no evidence of intentional murder and that Allen accepted responsibility.

The prosecutor argued that Allen did not show responsibility, since that depends on the time he decided to show it and take responsibility for the crime.

“It didn’t start when he and his wife pulled Ame’s lifeless body out of the box. It depends on when he called 911 and he didn’t. He waited 30 minutes before making that call, and if he did any CPR, it was all for show,” the prosecutor said. 

During Allen’s trial, a videotaped interview of him with a Phoenix police detective was played that showed him eventually admitting he locked the child in the box.

The defense also said Allen, who was 22 at the time of the crime, was a young man who was not fully grown yet was helping to care for several young children who lived in the home, among them Ame.

The defense also urged the jurors several times to act on their own individual moral compass. 

The jury will resume its sentencing deliberations on Thursday.


Videotaped confession aired at trial reveals details about Ame Deal’s death

Sammantha Allen sentenced to death for murder of cousin Ame Deal

Jury says Sammantha Allen eligible for death penalty in Ame Deal murder

Roberts: Don’t blame Ame Deal’s murderer. Blame her rotten childhood


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