Father of Phoenix girl found dead in box changes plea
David Martin Deal By Mike Gertzman
Ame Deal By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman
PHOENIX -- The father of a 10-year-old Phoenix girl who authorities said died after she was padlocked in a footlocker pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse at a change-of-plea hearing Wednesday morning.
David Martin Deal, 53, also pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana. His sentencing is scheduled for June 6. He faces up to 16 years in prison.
Deal isn't charged in the July 2011 death of his daughter, Ame Deal, but he admitted to putting her into a footlocker and throwing it into a pool on another occasion. The box was retrieved before it sank. Deal's lawyer said he acted with his sister, Cynthia Stoltzmann, who is the one who put the child in the box.
Authorities said Ame died after John Allen, who is married to the girl's cousin, padlocked her in the footlocker as discipline for taking a Popsicle without asking. She was left in the container all night and was found dead the next morning.
John and Sammantha Allen are charged with first-degree murder in the girl's death. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against them.
Stoltzmann, who is the child's aunt and legal guardian, pleaded guilty to abuse charges and will be sentenced on June 6.
Child abuse charges were dismissed against Ame's cousin, Ammandea Stoltzmann. A judge threw out the charges after prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence for the case to move forward.