PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Opening statements began Monday in the first-degree murder trial of Sammantha Allen, who is accused of locking her ten-year-old cousin, Ame Deal, in a plastic box until she ran out of air and died almost six years ago.
Allen, 28, sat motionless in court as prosecutor Jeannette Gallagher told jurors why Allen should be convicted of killing Deal.
"We are here today because on July 11, 2011, ten-year-old Ame Deal took a box of popsicles out of the refrigerator, or that is what defendants thought she had done," said Gallagher. "For that crime, they made Ame pay with her life. The murder weapon in this case wasn't a knife or a gun, it was a plastic box."
Deal was allegedly crammed into a box that was four foot tall, and suffocated. Allen's defense attorney, John Curry, acknowledged the case looks bad.
"Sammantha Allen has a lot to answer for," said Curry. "For what happened to Ame Deal and the way she dealt with it, and every other adult has a lot to answer for."
Curry, however, blamed Allen's mother, Cynthia.
"It all started with Cynthia," said Curry. "She had the idea to use the foot locker as a punishment device, and people in the house followed her lead."
Allen's husband, John, is also facing first degree murder charges in the case. His trial starts later on in the summer. As for Allen herself, she is also facing child abuse charges, and three other family members are already in prison for abusing Deal.