Christine Pelisek
August 09, 2017 05:16 PM

An Arizona woman was sentenced to death on Monday for her role in the 2011 murder of her 10-year-old cousin, who suffocated after she was padlocked overnight in a small plastic storage container in the sweltering heat, PEOPLE confirms.

With the jury’s decision, 29-year-old Sammantha Allen becomes the third woman on Arizona’s death row.

She was found guilty of first-degree murder and four counts of child abuse on June 26 in the killing of Ame Deal — who, authorities reportedly said, was forced to exercise in triple-digit summer temperatures and then locked in a 32-inch-long plastic box overnight, likely as punishment because she stole an ice pop.

Ame died from suffocation after being left in the box for six or seven hours.

“Lack of remorse was the biggest thing that played into it for us — that we didn’t see that from Sammantha throughout the whole process,” said juror Anne Schaad, according to the Associated Press and CBS News.

Allen’s defense attorney could not be reached for comment by PEOPLE.

“I want to thank the members of the jury for their time and effort on this case and reaching a difficult, but just conclusion for the senseless murder of Ame,” Maricopa County, Arizona, Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement.

Ame Deal

 

The case came to light on July 12, 2011, when police were called to Ame’s home in Phoenix and found her dead inside a plastic storage box. Family members initially said that she liked to hide in the box and must have fallen asleep, according to prosecutors.

Under questioning, Allen told police she knew the girl had been left in the container, the Arizona Republic reports. “There never was intention on killing her,” she said. But she said that her husband, John Allen, “said he was going to get her out.”

In video of her questioning shown at at her trial, however, Sammantha told a detective that she knew Ame was still in the container when she went to sleep, according to the Republic.

Authorities believe Sammantha and John were responsible for forcing Ame into the box and had fallen asleep without letting her out.

Before she was padlocked inside the box, John allegedly forced Ame to do back-bends for two hours and run around the yard despite the searing 103-degree temperature, the Republic reports.

Authorities said Ame was routinely locked inside the plastic box and abused by her caretakers. In one instance, the young girl was forced to eat dog feces and had it rubbed in her face after she failed to pick up a dog’s dropping, according to the Republic.

She was also allegedly made to crush aluminum cans barefoot, eat hot sauce and had been kicked in the face, beaten with a paddle and tossed into a cold swimming pool, according to the AP and CBS News.

Sammantha was sentenced to 76 years for four counts of child abuse, on top of her death sentence.

Sammantha Allen
Maricopa County Sheriff's Department

The AP reported that authorities had found Ame was a unique target of scorn in her family.

“Several forensic interviews were conducted on relative children,” investigators wrote in court records obtained by the news outlet. “The common theme is, Ame is bad, Ame lies, Ame steals, Ame is not allowed to play.”

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Ame’s father, David, was sentenced in June 2013 to 14 years in prison for attempted child-abuse for his role in Ame’s torment.

Her grandmother, Judith, was sentenced in September 2013 to 10 years in prison and lifetime probation after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted child abuse.

Cynthia Stoltzmann, who was Ame’s legal guardian and aunt, was sentenced to 24 years in prison and lifetime probation in September 2013 after pleading guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of attempted child abuse.

John Allen, who is also charged with murder and child abuse, is scheduled to go to trial on Oct 9. He has pleaded not guilty. A message left with his attorney was not returned.

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