Crime

Woman Convicted For Locking 10-Year-Old In Storage Bin

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Plastic Storage BinsPlastic Storage Bins

An Arizona woman was charged for the death of her 10-year-old cousin, with prosecutors saying she locked the girl in a plastic storage box. 

Samantha Allen, 28, was accused of assisting her husband lock 10-year-old Ame Deal in a small plastic storage box overnight as a form of punishment in 2011, according to KPNX.

The girl died of suffocation and heat as she was left outside to roast in the middle of July, with temperatures soaring past 100 degrees. The only source of air in the box were small holes near the handles. According to prosecutors, she was being punished for taking a popsicle without asking.

The trial began mid-June, with defense attorneys arguing that Allen was guilty of child abuse, but not murder. They say that Allen locked the girl in the box at the request of the 10-year-old's legal guardian. 

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Ame had a long history of abuse by a number of relatives. Her father, David Deal, and her grandmother, Judith Deal, were sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to attempted child abuse. Ame's aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, received a 25-year sentence for attempted child abuse.

According to the Daily Mail, Allen initially told investigating officers that Ame died after a game of hide-and-seek had gone wrong. However, she admitted that she knew her husband locked the girl inside the storage bin.

In her statement to police, she said that she believed her husband was going to release the girl from the 31-inch by 14-inch by 12-inch box before she would face any real harm.

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"There never was intention on killing her," she said. "[My husband] said he was going to get her out."

During the trial, investigators testified on the unsuitable conditions within the Allen household, saying that the property was filled with trash and debris. 

According to KPNX, prosecutors showed the jury photos of Ame's body lying next to the box covered in sweat. One juror openly cried at the photo, leading another juror to ask if it was permitted to show emotion in the jury box. The judge allowed the display of emotion, as long as emotion didn't play a part in Allen's final verdict.

Allen was convicted of first-degree murder. Her sentencing for the crime has not yet been determined.    

Husband John Allen has also been charged with first-degree murder and child abuse. His trial is expected to begin Aug. 7 and prosecutors will be pushing for the death penalty, according to KPNX. 

Sources: Daily Mail, KPNX (2) / Photo credit: Sheila Sund/FlickrMaricopa County Sheriff's Office via KPNX, Facebook via Daily Mail

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