PHOENIX – Four family members of a 10-year-old Phoenix girl found dead in a padlocked, plastic footlocker have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the July 12 death.
In addition to various child abuse charges, two cousins face first-degree murder counts. Ame Deal's grandmother and her aunt face multiple child abuse charges.
Authorities say the girl was put in the box as punishment for taking a Popsicle from a refrigerator, and that she suffered months of other abuse.
Family members had told police that the girl likely climbed into the box and accidentally suffocated while playing hide-and-seek.
Cousins John and Samantha Allen, grandmother Judith Deal, and 44-year-old Cynthia Stoltzmann pleaded not guilty during their arraignment Wednesday.
Maricopa County sheriff's officials say the group is declining to speak with the media.