Murder trial of woman accused of locking child in box begins

Posted: Updated:
Sammantha Lucille Rebecca Allen. left, is accused of killing her little cousin, Ame Deal, in 2011. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo) Sammantha Lucille Rebecca Allen. left, is accused of killing her little cousin, Ame Deal, in 2011. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The trial of a woman accused in one of the most tragic cases of child abuse in Arizona history is set to get underway Monday.

Sammantha Allen is charged with first-degree murder and four counts of child abuse in the death of her little cousin, Ame Deal, in 2011.

[READ: Woman faces trial in death of girl who was locked in a box]

Prosecutors say Allen locked the 10-year-old girl in a plastic storage box as punishment for stealing and eating a popsicle.

When Ame’s body was first found in the box, her family said she had hidden there while playing late-night game of hide and seek.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Body of child found in container after hide-and-seek game (July 12, 2011)]

[READ MORE: 'Hide-and-seek' death ruled a homicide; 4 arrested (July 28, 2011)]

Although Ame’s father, her aunt, who was her legal guardian, and her grandmother are serving prison time for child abuse, Allen and her husband, John Michael Allen, are the only family members charged with murder.

John Michael Allen is slated to be tried in August. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in both cases.

Although the family's neighbors had their suspicions, the Arizona Department of Child Safety (formerly Child Protective Services) said it did not receive any reports regarding the abuse of Ame until after her death. There were, however, child welfare reports from Utah, where the family used to live, that listed Ame as an abused child.

[READ MORE: School officials in Utah reported abuse of Ame Deal (July 30, 2011)]

[RELATED: Ame Deal's mother talks about young girl's death (July 31, 2011)]


Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.