Phoenix woman found guilty in death of girl locked in box

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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)
Sammantha Allen is facing first-degree murder charges in the 2011 death of Ame Deal. (Source: Pool) Sammantha Allen is facing first-degree murder charges in the 2011 death of Ame Deal. (Source: Pool)
Ame Deal suffocated in a storage box and was found dead in 2011. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Ame Deal suffocated in a storage box and was found dead in 2011. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A replica box is shown to the jury in addition to the actual container Ame Deal was allegedly locked inside. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A replica box is shown to the jury in addition to the actual container Ame Deal was allegedly locked inside. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (AP) -

A Phoenix woman charged in the death of a 10-year-old girl who was locked in a small plastic storage box has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

The jury announced its decision on Monday afternoon in the case against Sammantha Allen, who was accused of helping her husband lock Ame Deal in a box that was left outside overnight as punishment in July 2011.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Child locked in box trial]

Maricopa County Deputy County Attorney Jeannette Gallagher told jurors the bin only had small holes near the handles for air.

Prosecutors are 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.

[RELATED: Murder trial of woman accused of locking child in box begins]

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.

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