PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Jury selection began on Wednesday in one of the worst cases of child abuse and neglect reported in Phoenix. Nearly six years ago, 10-year-old Ame Deal was found dead inside a padlocked plastic storage box. The girl's aunt and uncle were charged with first-degree murder and now the trial for one of them is about to get underway.
Police said the conditions Ame lived in were cruel -- she endured a history of abuse and it was all under the hands of her relatives.
According to the investigation, Ame was forced to eat dog feces, crush aluminum cans with her bare feet and get into the storage box she eventually died in back in 2011.
Ame's cousin, 28-year-old Samantha Allen, faces several charges in the girl's death, including four counts of child abuse, one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse and one count of first-degree murder.
Police say Allen padlocked the girl in the box to punish her for stealing a popsicle. Other adults in the home originally claimed Ame hid in the box during a game of hide and seek.
The box was less than three feet long, one foot wide and a foot deep. Ame stood about four feet tall and weighed nearly 60 pounds.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Allen and her husband, 28-year-old John Allen. Three other relatives, including an aunt who served as Ame's legal guardian, and her father, are in prison serving sentences for abusing Ame.
Jury selection is expected to last two weeks. Opening statements begin May 30.