Friday, July 18, 2014

6th arrest made in death of Ame Deal


Girl's father held on charges of child abuse

by Kellie Mejdrich and Philip Haldiman - Jul. 8, 2012 09:11 PM
The Republic |

A sixth suspect in the harrowing abuse and death last year of 10-year-old Ame Deal was arrested Friday night, Phoenix police say.

David Deal, the girl's father, was taken into custody in connection with abusing Ame, who was found dead last July, locked in a footlocker that measured 311/2 inches long, 14 inches wide and 121/4 inches deep in a south Phoenix home, said Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Deal, 52, was arrested on suspicion of four counts of child abuse, three counts of kidnapping and dangerous crimes against children, Crump said.

A court ordered Deal's release from jail Saturday at 3:45 p.m., according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Phoenix police said Deal was let go on his own recognizance, which means he did not post bail and essentially promised to show up for his court date.

Officials believe Deal to be the final suspect in the case, and that he was the first to use confinement as punishment for Ame. The girl's cousins, aunts and grandmother have also been charged in the case.

Officials allege that, on several occasions between December 2010 and July 2011, David locked Ame in a trunk as punishment.

"On one occasion, (he) was said to have thrown the trunk, containing Ame, into the backyard swimming pool because she kept crying and yelling that she couldn't breathe during the confinement," Crump said. "The trunk was removed before it could sink."

After his arrest, Deal denied that Ame was his daughter and that he abused her.

Despite the development in the case, family members accused of tormenting and killing Ame last summer are months, if not years, from standing trial because of the complexity of the case and the severity of the charges.

Authorities allege that John Allen, 23, and Sammantha Allen, 24, her cousins, had stuffed Ame in the footlocker at her home in the 3700 block of West Romley Road in Phoenix the night of July 11 as punishment for taking a Popsicle from the freezer.

Police allege she had been forced into the footlocker several times before. She also faced other abuse that spanned much of her short life.

John Allen and Sammantha Allen are charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse. Police allege that John padlocked Ame inside the footlocker while Sammantha made sure she didn't escape.

The state is seeking the death penalty against John Allen and Sammantha Allen, who were arrested last summer along with Ame's grandmother Judith Deal, 73, and aunt Cynthia Stoltzmann, 45. Judith Deal and Stoltzmann are charged with multiple child-abuse counts.

The death-penalty case won't come to trial until Dec. 16, 2013, court records indicate. That's not unusual for that kind of case, said John Curry, Sammantha Allen's lawyer from Maricopa County's Office of the Legal Defender.

"These are the time limits and the rules. The rules reflect an understanding by all concerned that these cases take a long time," Curry said.

The four original defendants are named in a 15-part indictment that recounts repeated instances of abuse before Ame's death.

Those four original defendants remain in jail, said Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

In February, a new defendant was added to the case: 25-year-old Ammandea Stoltzmann, another of Ame's aunts who's accused of abusing her. Ammandea was released from custody the day after her arrest on the condition she show proof that she lives at her current address, Cobb said.

Ammandea's arrest came as new details emerged during the case investigation, which has crossed state lines, Cobb said.

Witnesses alleged to investigators that while living with Ame in Texas, Ammandea beat the child, restrained her outdoors overnight with a dog collar and chain, and confined her in a dog kennel. They also alleged that in Arizona, in the months before Ame's death, Ammandea scrubbed her face with a wire brush, kicked her in the face, and put extremely potent hot sauce in her mouth as punishment for lying, police records show.

In a police statement, Ammandea said Ame was never schooled, allowed to play or taken anywhere with the rest of the family.

The trial of Cynthia Stoltzmann,Ammandea Stoltzmann and Judith Deal was separated from that of John Allen and Sammantha Allen because their charges are related to abuse before her death, records show. The three facing lesser charges are scheduled to meet for a case-management conference on Aug. 10, but their trial date has not been set.

While neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys would comment publicly on details of the cases, court records show there is a complex discovery process in place to lay out evidence showing how Ame was abused and how she died. A long list of witnesses is expected to be called.

There already has been controversy between Sammantha Allen's defense team and the prosecution over what may be admitted into evidence.

Records show that the defense moved to have a private jailhouse conversation between John and Sammantha stricken from available evidence, arguing that the recording violated state law. The defense became aware of the conversation in discovery.

The judge has not yet ruled on a motion to suppress that evidence.

Police, meanwhile, said the investigation continues.

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David Deal

David Deal, the girl's father.

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