Man sentenced to death for murder of Phoenix girl locked in box
John Allen, left, and Ame Deal, right.

By David Baker, KOLD

PHOENIX -- (KOLD) -- The man who stuffed a family member into a locked box as punishment has been sentenced to death.

A jury decided on the death penalty on Thursday for John Allen.

Last week, he was found guilty of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse.

Prosecutors said Allen crammed Ame Deal inside a small plastic storage box as punishment for taking ice pops and could have saved her from dying but chose to go to sleep instead.

Allen's wife, Sammantha Allen, is Deal's cousin. She was convicted of first-degree murder in Deal's death on June 26. Sammantha was then sentenced to death in August and is on Arizona's death row.

Defense attorney Robert Reinhardt had argued that John Allen, a father of four young children, did not intend for the girl to die and that the other adults in the home created the abusive environment.

But County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Thursday that the Allens "received the only proportionate penalty that could rightly be imposed for the torture and pain they put Ame through. Ame deserved so much more from the adults responsible for her care."

Ame's death was the culmination of a shocking history of abuse at the hands of relatives who were charged with caring for her.

Authorities said the girl was forced to eat dog feces, crush aluminum cans barefoot, consume hot sauce and get in the storage box on other occasions.

She also was kicked in the face, beaten with a wooden paddle and forcibly dunked after being thrown in a cold swimming pool, according to police investigators.

Adults at the home originally claimed Ame hid during a late-night game of hide-and-seek and wasn't found until hours later.

Three other relatives are in prison serving sentences for abusing Ame.

David Deal, who is listed as the girl's father on her birth certificate, is serving a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted child abuse.

FULL STORY: Man sentenced to death for murder of Phoenix girl locked in box - KOLD