An Arizona woman has been convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of her 10-year-old cousin, who suffocated after being locked in a small plastic box as temperatures soared above 100 degrees.
A jury found that Sammantha Allen, 28, knew that her husband, John Allen, had allegedly put Ame Deal in the foot locker and padlocked it on a hot June day in 2011, The Arizona Republic reported.
She went on to tell investigators that it was a common punishment meted out to the little girl.
"[John Allen] said he remembered times where [Ame] spent times in the box overnight and survived," Allen said during videotaped statements to Phoenix police.
But Ame suffocated in the 31-by-14-by-12 inch box, which only had small air holes near its handles, and was found dead the next day, authorities said.
"There never was intention on killing her," Allen said in the video. “He (John Allen) said he was going to get her out."
In addition to first-degree murder, Allen was found guilty of child abuse, intentional or knowing child abuse and negligent child abuse.
Another phase of Allen’s trial will establish if aggravated circumstances were involved in Ame’s death, which will help determine if Allen will get life in prison or the death penalty.
Allen’s husband, John Allen, is set to face trial on August 7. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Three other relatives were convicted of abusing Ame and are currently in prison.