The outcomes are now known for charges against three of six family members accused of harming 10-year-old Ame Deal, who was murdered in Phoenix almost two years ago.
Ame's father, David Deal, pleaded guilty this morning to attempted child abuse and possession of marijuana, while the girl's aunt previously pleaded guilty to three charges, and charges were dropped against another family member, Ame's cousin Ammandea Stoltzmann.
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Murder charges are still pending against Ame's cousins, as is a child-abuse charge against her grandmother.
Even though David Deal and Ame's aunt Cynthia Stoltzmann haven't been sentenced, the outcomes of the charges in the three cases so far don't exactly scream "justice" for a 10-year-old girl who died after a lifetime of abuse, including being locked in a small footlocker, where she died, by family members as punishment for taking a popsicle without asking, according to police.
First, prosecutors from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said there wasn't enough evidence to go forward with the case against Ammandea Stoltzmann, although a probable-cause statement submitted by police says something else entirely.
She told police she started keeping Ame in a dog crate in 2005. She also made Ame crush aluminum cans while barefoot and forced the girl to sleep in a pan meant for a shower floor. Stoltzmann said she'd ruin Ame's meals by dousing it with hot sauce "so strong you couldn't bear to be close by or your eyes would burn and water."
Police said Stoltzmann admitted to watching another relative lock Ame in a footlocker twice — the same footlocker where Ame eventually died.
Witnesses not identified in the court document were the ones who brought these things to the cops' attention, and they claimed Stoltzmann did more than she admitted to, including keeping Ame outside at night with a dog collar and chain, and scrubbing her face with a wire brush for lying.
Police said Stoltzmann initially denied hurting Ame, before conceding that some of the allegations were true.
A spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office told New Times after the charges were dropped that he couldn't elaborate on the reasoning.
Late last week, Cynthia Stoltzmann pleaded guilty to two child-abuse charges, and one attempted child-abuse charge.
Although four of the seven charges against Stoltzmann were defined as Class 2 felonies, the three charges she pleaded guilty to in her agreement were several levels lower than that, i.e., she's facing a lot less prison time.
Now Ame's father, David Deal, has entered a guilty plea for attempted child abuse and marijuana possession.
According to witness accounts, Deal was the first person to keep Ame in confinement, starting with keeping his daughter locked in a dog kennel.
Police say Deal also locked Ame in a box, then tossed it in the backyard swimming pool.
Deal's reason for doing this, police say, was because Ame "kept crying and yelling she could not breathe during the confinement."
Deal denied to police that he'd abused his daughter, but a police said Deal described his own daughter as a "Pillsbury-Doughboy-looking thing and said her mental problems frustrated others."
One child-abuse charge is still pending against Ame's grandmother, Judith Deal, and first-degree murder charges are still pending against Ame's cousins, John and Sammantha Allen, who locked Ame in the footlocker the night she died, according to police.
We'll have to wait and see if they get served with quote, justice, unquote, too.
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