Sammantha Allen, the Phoenix woman convicted of murder for leaving her 10-year-old cousin to die in a padlocked storage box, has been sentenced to death.
Jurors deliberated for a week over whether there are mitigating factors that would allow Allen to avoid the death penalty and instead be sentenced to life in prison.
The verdict was read late Monday morning in Maricopa County Superior Court. Upon learning her fate, Allen hung her head and wept.
Allen becomes the third woman on Arizona death row.
She was convicted in June of murder, child abuse and conspiracy for her role in locking her cousin, Ame Deal, in a 31-inch-long footlocker overnight during triple-digit temperatures on July 11, 2011.
After stealing a frozen treat on a hot summer day, the child was forced into physical exertion, then padlocked inside a 31- by 14- by 12-inch footlocker and left overnight, court records say.
Ame was dead by the time someone went to let her out the next morning.
Allen’s husband, John Allen, also is charged with murder and child abuse. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 9.
Three other family members are in prison for their roles in the case. Judith Deal currently is serving a 10-year sentence for a child-abuse conviction. Cynthia Stoltzman, who was Ame’s legal guardian, is serving 24 years for child abuse in the case, and David Deal is serving 14 years for child abuse.
Case of Phoenix girl who died in footlocker
Ame apparently was locked in the footlocker as punishment for taking a frozen treat from the refrigerator. Court records say that John Allen told investigators that he locked Ame in the box while his wife stood by. Then, records say, the Allens fell asleep.
Before Ame was locked in, however, police believe she was forced to spend two hours doing backbends and was forced by John to maintain the torturous position, court records say. She also was forced to run in the yard despite the summer heat, records say. The temperature that day exceeded 103 degrees.
Then, sweating profusely and badly overheated, Ame was forcibly jammed into the footlocker, court records say.
The footlocker had been used on several previous occasions to punish Ame for various offenses, including wetting the bed, according to accounts given to police by others who had lived at the home, court records say.
On one occasion, adults who lived at the house said, as punishment for failing to pick up a dog’s droppings, the feces were rubbed onto Ame’s face and she was forced to eat them, court records say.
Ame was listed as an “abused, neglected child” in Utah, where the family had lived from 2006 to 2010. Arizona Department of Child Safety, then called Child Protective Services, had no prior contact with the family or with Ame.
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