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Arizona woman sentenced to death in murder of girl locked in hot box

By D Drama | Published:

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PHOENIX — In the end, the jurors felt they had no choice but to sentence Sammantha Allen to death for the brutal 2011 murder of her 10-year-old cousin, Ame Deal.
The Phoenix woman had been on trial in Maricopa County Superior Court since May, one of four family members charged with disciplining the girl by forcing her to do exercise in sweltering July heat and then locking her in a 31-inch-long footlocker overnight.
That box was padlocked shut and Ame suffocated inside of it in the Phoenix home, authorities say.
“The pictures of the victim stayed in our minds,” said juror Ann Ospeth. “I think the thing for us was the victim and all the things her life entailed.”
It demanded a death penalty, the jurors agreed.
“We were following what the law stated,” said juror Amanda Heath.
And indeed the jurors felt that Allen should be punished to the max.
They also found aggravating factors for the four underlying child-abuse counts against Allen, which allowed the judge to impose harsher sentences for those charges.

Allen was found guilty June 26. Then the jury deliberated for a week over whether there were mitigating factors that would allow Allen to avoid the death penalty and instead be sentenced to life in prison.

They considered her age, her dysfunctional upbringing and the fact that she had no prior criminal record. But they determined the horror of the crime outweighed all of those.

Ame Deal’s father, David, was sentenced in June 2013 in Maricopa County Superior Court to 14 years in prison on an attempted child-abuse charge. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department

The verdict was read late Monday morning in Maricopa County Superior Court. Upon learning her fate, Allen hung her head and wept.

“I just feel sad,” said John Curry, her lead defense attorney, as he left the courthouse.

Allen becomes the third woman on Arizona’s death row, and the first to be sentenced to death since Shawna Forde in Tucson in 2011. The last woman sentenced to death in Maricopa County was Wendi Andriano in 2004, but not for lack of trying.

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