An Arizona woman was convicted Monday of first-degree murder for the death of her 10-year-old cousin who she locked in a plastic box and left to suffocate in triple-digit heat, reports CBS News.
Allen was also found guilty of three counts of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse.
In July 2011, Sammantha Allen and her husband forced 10-year-old Ame Deal into a plastic bin as a form of punishment. The locked bin had only small holes near the handles for air. Ame was found dead the next day when temperatures soared over 100 degrees.
Prosecutors say that Allen and her husband forced Ame into the bin after she stole and ate a popsicle.
Allen’s trial revealed that Ame was abused by multiple relatives. Her lawyers argued that this type of punishment was used often and that it was done so at the request of Ame’s aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, who was the girl’s legal guardian.
Ame was forced to sleep on the floor of a shower stall and relatives put hot sauce in her mouth when she lied.
Three other relatives are convicted and in prison for abusing the 10-year-old.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Allen, but her lawyer argues that while she may be guilty of child abuse, she is not guilty of murder. Both the prosecution and defense mentioned the fact that Allen may have told her husband to let Ame out of the box before she fell asleep.
Allen’s husband, John Allen, is also charged with first-degree murder and child abuse. His trial will start August 7.
AZ Family reported in 2011 that when Ame’s body was found, the family claimed that she had been playing a late-night game of hide-and-seek. Neighbors later came forward and admitted they noticed “something was fishy” at the house, but no one ever contacted child services.
Sgt. Trent Crump of the Phoenix Police Department said at the time, “I don’t think that a crime could be more unspeakable.”
[Feature photo: Maricopa County Sherrif’s Department/Pheonix Police Department]