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Phoenix man sentenced to death for fatally locking young girl in box

PHOENIX — A Phoenix man was sentenced to death Thursday for locking a 10-year-old girl inside of a box as punishment where she later died.

A jury found that John Allen’s crimes — his convictions included first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse — were enough for the death sentence.

Allen’s wife, Sammantha, was sentenced to death in the case.

Authorities said the Allens were responsible for making Ame Deal get into the box in 2011 as punishment for stealing an ice pop. She was left there and found dead six or seven hours later.

“Jonathan Allen, along with his wife, Sammantha, received the only proportionate penalty that could rightly be imposed for the torture and pain they put Ame through,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a release.

“Ame deserved so much more from the adults responsible for her care.”

The girl’s death was the culmination of a history of abuse that a handful of relatives heaped on her, authorities said.

Deal was forced to eat dog feces, crush aluminum cans barefoot, consume hot sauce and get in the storage box on other occasions. She also was kicked in the face, beaten with a wooden paddle and forcibly dunked after being thrown in a cold swimming pool, investigators said.

Adults at the home originally claimed Deal hid during a late-night game of hide-and-seek and wasn’t found until hours later.

Child welfare authorities in Arizona said they didn’t receive any reports of abuse before her death. But child welfare reports from Utah, where the family lived before moving to Phoenix, listed Deal as an abused child, police said.

Other relatives were in prison serving sentences for abusing Deal.

David Deal, who is listed as the girl’s father on her birth certificate, is serving a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted child abuse.

Ame’s legal guardian at the time of her death was her aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, who is serving a 24-year prison sentence for a child abuse conviction. Ame’s grandmother, Judith Deal, is serving 10 years for child abuse.

Authorities said Ame’s mother left the family years earlier after suffering abuse from relatives and moved to Kansas without her daughter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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