PHOENIX (AP) -- 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.
John Allen, 23, has been charged with first degree murder after allegedly admitting he locked 10-year-old Ame Deal in a trunk outside his family's home in Phoenix, Ariz. Deal was found dead in the box on July 12.
Allen's wife, Samantha Allen, has also been charged with first degree murder in the child's death. The 23-year-old suspect is the victim's cousin.
Deal's aunt, Cynthia Stolzmann, 44, admitted locking the girl in the box on previous occasions, according to police. She has been charged with child abuse and kidnapping.
The victim's grandmother, 62-year-old Judith Deal, has also been charged with child abuse and kidnapping.
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.