A Georgia woman was convicted and sentenced to death for fatally starving her stepdaughter and trying to burn her emaciated body.
On Monday, a jury of six men and six women in Gwinnett County found Tiffany Moss, 36, guilty of murder in the 2013 death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter Emani. Moss took the unusual step of representing herself during her trial but decided not to present an opening or closing statement and declined to question or present any witnesses or evidence of her own, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The jury returned the death sentence Tuesday morning, making it the first time a person had been condemned to die in Georgia in more than five years.
During her final arguments on Monday, Assistant District Attorney Lisa Jones described the heinousness of Moss’ actions saying she woke up every morning deciding, “I’m going to kill that baby [and] she did it without a second thought,” as it took several weeks for Emani to die.
“She’s shown you too much of her capacity for cruelty. There will always be that dark side waiting to come out,” Jones said.
According to the AJC, Jones described how Moss lashed Emani when she was six years old for not doing her homework and when a teacher saw her bruises, Moss was charged with child cruelty and was placed on probation and lost her job after pleading guilty. Jones went on to say that Moss punished Emani further, taking her out of school to keep her isolated from anyone who could help her.
Moss would later have children of her own with Emani’s father, Eman, and the two further neglected the young girl who starved in a bedroom. She lived in squalor and waste and eventually became too weak to move. The 10-year-old was only 32 pounds when she died.
Eman Moss testified early during the trial as part of a plea deal, saying that he regretted not sending his daughter to live with his mother after Moss pleaded guilty to abusing her in March 2010, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. Ultimately, he said, he allowed the starvation of Emani to take place and after she died, she remained in her room so long that rigor mortis had set in.
The couple tried to incinerate her body in a wooded area and realizing it would not burn, they removed it, placing it in a trash can. After the next day he told his wife they needed to call 911. He eventually confessed to killing his daughter and was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015.
In Tiffany Moss’ trial, Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter gave disturbing details on what happens to a body during starvation and pondered how the child suffered.
“Who in the world conceives of or executes a plan to starve a 10-year-old to death?” Porter asked. ”There are some crimes that are so horrible, so heinous, the only balance you can pay is with your life. Justice demands the proper payment.”
Capital defenders were appointed as “standby” counsel as Moss did nothing in her defense during the trial. They sat behind her as she occasionally sought their advice, but seemed unemotional during the process. Moss even looked straight ahead and showed little reaction as she was found guilty on all counts of murder, concealing a body and child cruelty.