Jury's decision moves a Phoenix man closer to death penalty

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John Allen, left, and Ame Deal, right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo) John Allen, left, and Ame Deal, right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo)
A jury found John Allen guilty of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo) A jury found John Allen guilty of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo)
PHOENIX (AP) -

Jurors have found aggravating factors that could make a Phoenix man eligible for the death penalty in the 2011 murder of a 10-year-old girl.

The Maricopa County Superior Court jury determined that the killing of Ame Deal was especially cruel or heinous since the girl was locked in a small storage box in sweltering summer heat.

[ORIGINAL STORY: 'Hide-and-seek' death ruled a homicide; 4 arrested]

Closing arguments in the penalty phase of John Allen's trial are scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.

The 29-year-old Allen was convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse last week.

[RELATED: Man convicted of first-degree murder in death of Phoenix girl locked in box]

Allen's 28-year-old wife Sammantha Allen was a cousin of Deal's. She was convicted of murder in the girl's death in June.

[READ MORE: Sammantha Allen sentenced to death for locking girl in box]

Authorities say the couple forced Ame into the plastic box as punishment for stealing ice pops.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Child locked in box trial]

The girl was found dead the next morning.

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