PHOENIX — The father of a 10-year-old girl who died after being placed inside a footlocker for punishment has been arrested.
The Arizona Republic reports that 52-year-old David Deal was arrested Friday night on suspicion of child abuse, kidnapping and dangerous crimes against children.
Phoenix police say 10-year-old Ame Deal died on July 12 after being placed inside a padlocked, plastic footlocker for punishment.
The father's arrest marks the sixth person to be taken into custody in the case. The girl's cousins, aunts and grandmother have also been charged.
Officials allege that David Deal locked the girl in a trunk as punishment on several occasions between December 2010 and July 2011.
"On one occasion, (he) was said to have thrown the trunk, containing Ame, into the backyard swimming pool because she kept crying and yelling that she couldn't breathe during the confinement," Crump said. "The trunk was removed before it could sink."
After his arrest, Deal denied that he abused her.
Family members accused of tormenting and killing Ame are months, if not years, from standing trial because of the complexity of the case and the severity of the charges.
Authorities allege that two of her cousins — 23-year-old John Allen and 24-year-old Sammantha Allen — had stuffed the child in the footlocker at her home on July 11 as punishment for taking a Popsicle from the freezer.
John Allen and Sammantha Allen are charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse. Police allege that John padlocked Ame inside the footlocker while Sammantha made sure she didn't escape.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against John Allen and Sammantha Allen, who were arrested last summer along with Ame's 73- year-old grandmother, Judith Deal, and 45-year-old aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann.
Judith Deal and Stoltzmann are charged with multiple child-abuse counts.
In February, the girl's 25-year-old aunt, Ammandea Stoltzmann, was accused of abusing her.
Authorities say Ammandea's arrest came as new details emerged during the case investigation, which has crossed state lines.
Witnesses alleged that while living with Ame in Texas, Ammandea beat the child, restrained her outdoors overnight with a dog collar and chain and confined her in a dog kennel. They also alleged that in Arizona, Ammandea scrubbed her face with a wire brush, kicked her in the face and put extremely potent hot sauce in her mouth as punishment for lying, police records show.
In a police statement, Ammandea said Ame was never schooled, allowed to play or taken anywhere with the rest of the family.
The death-penalty case won't come to trial until December 2013.
The trial of Cynthia Stoltzmann, Ammandea Stoltzmann and Judith Deal was separated from that of John Allen and Sammantha Allen because their charges are related to abuse before her death, records show. Their trial date hasn't been set.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.