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(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)
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Jury finds Phoenix woman guilty of fatally locking young girl in box

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — A jury found a Phoenix woman guilty on Monday of locking a 10-year-old girl inside of a box as punishment where she later died.

Sammantha Allen was found guilty of helping her husband lock Ame Deal in a box that was left outside overnight as punishment in July 2011. Maricopa County Deputy County Attorney Jeannette Gallagher told jurors the bin only had small holes near the handles for air.

Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.

Authorities said Deal suffocated and was found dead the next day as temperatures surpassed 100 degrees.

Jurors began deliberating on Monday morning in the trial that began two weeks ago.

Allen’s attorney argued the form of punishment was commonplace in the household and was done at the request of Deal’s aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, her legal guardian.

The defense argued that Sammantha Allen was almost certainly guilty of child abuse but not murder.

Authorities allege Deal’s death came after a long history of abuse at the hands of multiple relatives. Deal lived with at least 10 adults and children in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in south Phoenix.

In opening statements, both sides referred to a question about whether Sammantha Allen told her husband to let Deal out of the bin before she fell asleep.

John Allen’s trial is expected to start on Aug. 7.

Both defendants are charged with first-degree murder and child abuse. Three other relatives were convicted of abusing Deal and are currently in prison.

David Deal, the girl’s father, previously pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse and was sentenced to jail. Stoltzmann was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted child abuse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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