Georgia woman Tiffany Moss was convicted Monday for the 2013 murder of her stepdaughter, 10-year-old Emani Moss. Now jurors in Gwinnett County, Georgia are deliberating whether she should get the death penalty.
The defendant is representing herself, but did absolutely nothing at trial and during the sentencing hearing to undermine the state’s case.
#TiffanyMoss – Moss will NOT present evidence in penalty phase. She is not going to ask the jury to spare her life.
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) April 29, 2019
The judge rejected a motion from her standby counsel to intervene for sentencing.
Cops said the victim’s father Eman Moss called 911 saying he wanted to commit suicide, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Police arrived at the apartment complex where he lived, and he said that his daughter “drank some chemical” and died. He admittedly “panicked” over her death, put her body in a trash can, and attempted to burn it.
From the beginning, cops openly doubted there were any chemicals in the first place. Police said Emani Moss’ parents starved her to death.
Her father pleaded guilty in 2015, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He testified against Tiffany Moss as part of his deal with prosecutors. His lawyer Christian Lamar said at sentencing that Eman Moss wasn’t a monster, but negligent. Tiffany Moss convinced her husband that they’d lose custody of their children if they got medical care for Emani.
Tiffany Moss took the lead role in this girl’s murder, prosecutors said. She starved her stepdaughter while making sure her kids were fed and clothed, said the prosecution. Emani had been kept from eating for about a dozen days, according to warrants obtained by the AJC.
A history of child abuse has been established by prosecutors. Tiffany Moss pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation in 2010 for beating Emani, then 6. The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services agreed to the deal, and dropped their case against the couple.
According to cops, Emani ran away from the home twice in 2012, but police said they were unable to prove her claim of abuse.
Tiffany Moss refused to get legal representation, and said she wanted to rely on God’s guidance. Judge George Hutchinson emphatically recommended she let a lawyer handle her case, especially because she faced the death penalty.
“They are seeking to have you executed, and I can’t be more blunt than to say they are trying to have you killed,” he said. “That’s just as serious as it can possibly get and I think it’s best that you have an attorney.”
Nonetheless, he found her competent to represent herself. She does have two public defenders on standby to answer any questions she might have. In fact, they appealed Hutchinson’s decision, but the Georgia Supreme Court decided in December to not even hear the case.
Court observers described her as rather quiet during jury selection. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said at a hearing this month that he had offered Moss the same plea deal her husband got: life in prison without parole. That’s a moot point now, however, because he said that the offer would only be available until the jury is selected.
Note – April 29, 6:53 p.m.: This article was edited to reflect the guilty verdict.
[Image via 11Alive screengrab]