Ariz. woman accused of abusing niece pleads guilty

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- The legal guardian of a 10-year-old Phoenix-area girl who died in July 2011 after being padlocked by another family member in a footlocker has pleaded guilty in the case.

Maricopa County prosecutors say 45-year-old Cynthia Stoltzmann pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of child abuse and one count of attempted child abuse.

She will be sentenced on June 6.

Stoltzmann was the aunt of Ame Deal. She was accused of throwing the child into a cold swimming pool several months before the girl's death and forcing her head underwater.

Stoltzmann also was accused of once sitting on the footlocker while Deal was inside the box for stealing food.

Four other Deal relatives face various charges in the case, including two of her cousins who are charged with first-degree murder.