Opening statements were heard Monday June 12, in the case of a women accused of killing her 10-year-old cousin, by suffocating her in a locked plastic container overnight.
Sammantha Allen is accused of aiding her husband, John Allen, with padlocking Ame Deal in a plastic storage container, with only a few small breathing holes, overnight from July 11 to July 12, 2011, because she allegedly took some Popsicles out of the freezer.
In a surprise move Allen’s defense attorney, John Curry, admitted that, “without question Sammantha Allen is guilty of child abuse, but she is not guilty of murder.” He also said, “Allen has a lot to answer for,” in the treatment and death of Deal, but that using the plastic container was, “standard procedure,” in the house a procedure started by Cynthia Stoltzmann, Deale’s aunt and legal guardian.
Curry also admitted that in his client’s first interviews with the police, “she lied and she lied and she lied and she lied,” making up the story that Deal and the other children were just playing hide and seek and that the young girl, must’ve gotten in the box all by herself never got out.
Prosecutor Jeannette Gallagher said in her statement that Allen and her husband used the box to murder Deal because she, “took a box of Popsicles out of the freezer.”
Gallagher said that before being forced into the box Deal was forced to lean against the wall with her hands above her head for hours, then she was forced to do back bends for around an hour, until she was too tired to continue, at which point Sammantha had her do jumping jacks until finally John decided it was time to put her in the box. Gallagher said, the morning they found Deal dead in the box Sammantha her husband, and Judith Deal, Ame’s grandmother, waited 30 minutes coming up with their story about what happened, before they eventually called the police. Gallagher state, “from day one she has tried to convince everyone,” what happened was an accident, “but it wasn’t it was child abuse and murder in the first degree.”
Curry added, “on the night that Ame died Sammantha was at her wits end” trying to take care of the seven children living in that home by herself and left her husband to, “handle,” Deal’s punishment. He then said that Sammantha asked her husband to go let the young girl out of the box, “within minutes,” but didn’t know what her husband did after that.
Gallagher however, pointed to a conversation between the defendant and her husband where Sammantha said, “I didn’t even wake up to unlock the box, and I thought about it.”
Retired Phoenix police officer Albert Salaiz, was called as the state’s first witness . Officer Salaiz was the first responder on the scene. In his testimony, he described through tears the state of Deal’s body when he found her. He said her hands were clenched, “in a claw like manner,” and that her knees were tight against her chest adding, her hair, “was in a tangled up in a mess and her lips were a yellow color. Salaiz also interviewed John Allen, outside the house immediately after Deal’s death, where Salaiz described John as indifferent to what just happened.
Cynthia Stolzmann, Judith Deal and Ame’s father David Deal are already serving sentences for charges related to the abuse of the girl.