Stepmother Defending Herself in Child’s Murder Refuses to Deliver Opening Statement

How will Georgia woman Tiffany Moss defend herself against the allegation she starved 10-year-old stepdaughter Emani Moss to death? We don’t know. She declined to give an opening statement in her trial Wednesday. The judge asked if she would ever give one.

“No, sir,” she said.

The defendant faces the death penalty for the victim’s 2013 death. She has refused to let attorneys represent her, saying instead she wants to rely on God.

Moss does not have a law degree. There are two public defenders on standby to answer any legal questions she might have. The judge told jurors before opening statements that the defendant is presumed innocent, and that it’s the state’s burden to prove their case against her.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told jurors that this was a Cinderella story gone wrong. He said that there was a pattern of abuse stretching out for years.

In 2010, Emani, then 6, came to school with bruises. Tiffany had “beaten the lights” out of her using a belt, Porter said. Teachers reported it, and the defendant pleaded guilty in criminal court. This conviction meant she couldn’t work as teacher anymore.

The abuse continued, according to the prosecution. Emani tried running away in June 2012, and claimed her stepmother tied her up with belts and put her in a cold shower. Tiffany said the child wasn’t telling the truth, Porter said. There was no arrest because there was no evidence to charge anyone for abuse at this time. Emani ran away later, and was found in the bushes by the gate of the apartment complex where her family lived, the prosecution said.

For all intents and purposes, the victim vanished from the face of the Earth after last seeing her grandmother on Mother’s Day 2013, Porter said. The older woman asked why Emani’s hair was clipped down.

“If you don’t act pretty, you don’t look pretty,” Tiffany said according to the prosecution.

Her parents filed to have her home schooled, and they moved to another residence, Porter said. Neighbors said they only saw two children (Tiffany’s biological kids) living at the residence. They never knew about the third, Porter said.

Things allegedly came to a head in late Oct. 24, 2013. Emani’s father Eman Moss said he found her unresponsive, according to Porter. He put her in bed, but the victim died sometime between October 28 and 30. Eman discovered her on the October 30, but Tiffany allegedly insisted they hide the body because she didn’t want to go to prison and lose her kids.

The couple allegedly put the body in a comforter, and placed her in a trash bag. There was attempt to burn the body, but Eman realized it wasn’t going to reduce his daughter to ashes, Porter said.

Eman called 911 and admitted to what he’d done, said the prosecution. He pleaded guilty in 2015, and is expected to testify against Tiffany Moss.

It’s unclear how the defendant plans on undermining the state’s. She has not been questioning witnesses thus far.

[Screengrab via WSB-TV]

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