Girl, 10, Was Locked in Box and Suffocated to Death in 2011 — and Killer's Death Sentence Is Upheld

John Allen will die by lethal injection for his role in the 10-year-old girl's horrific death


John Allen, who was sentenced to death in 2017 for abusing and killing 10-year-old Ame Deal in 2011, will remain on Arizona’s death row, thanks to a court ruling delivered this week.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Allen’s death sentence on Tuesday — more than two years after the 32-year-old murderer learned he’d eventually die by lethal injection.

The same fate awaits Allen’s wife, Sammantha, also 32, who was Ame’s cousin.

She has appealed her conviction.

Both were found guilty of murdering Ame, by stuffing the girl into a plastic box on July 11, 2011, and padlocked the lid, leaving the little girl to suffocate.

According to investigators, Ame was forced to exercise in the summer heat before being shoved into the small, 31-inch-long footlocker overnight — punishment, police say, for stealing a popsicle.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Allen initially told police Ame was locked inside the box accidentally, as part of a game of hide-and-seek that had gone horribly wrong. Later, he admitted to using the box as a punishment tool, but insisted he did not mean to leave the girl in the box overnight.

He said he’d fallen asleep, but meant to let her out beforehand.

Allen kept the only key to the lock.

Authorities would learn Ame suffered abuse at the hands of her relatives for years before he killing.

In their decision, the justices dismissed the notion that jurors meted out too harsh a sentence for Allen, noting Ame’s death was “especially cruel.”

The court did expunge three related child abuse convictions, determining the court improperly applied the sentencing enhancements.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Department

Allen was one of four family members arrested in connection with Ame’s brutal death.

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

Cynthia Stoltzmann, who was Ame’s aunt and legal guardian, pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of attempted child abuse, and received a 24-year sentence.

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

Ame’s body was found in the footlocker on July 12, 2011.

The four suspects were formally charged 15 days later.

The court’s decision Tuesday also vacated Allen’s sentences on conspiracy to commit child abuse, intentional child abuse and reckless child abuse.

He will be resentenced on those convictions at some future date.

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