Atlanta area woman to represent self in death penalty case focused on stepdaughter’s gruesome death

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A Gwinnett County, Ga., woman is set to represent herself in a death penalty case revolving around the starvation and burning of her 10-year-old stepdaughter, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting.

Tiffany Moss, 35, is charged with murder and child cruelty in the starvation death and burning of the body of Emani Moss in 2013. The child’s body weighed only 32 pounds when it was found in a dumpster near the apartment complex where she lived.

READ MORE: Mother charged with gruesome murder of girl found stuffed in duffel bag

Moss will begin her defense on Monday in the case that has been characterized as one of the most egregious examples of child abuse in Georgia history. Those involved in the case tell the AJC that she has been pleasant and passive during pre-trial hearings, and during one three-hour appearance, answered mostly with “yes” or “no” responses except for a mention to the judge that the clothing her family provided for her to wear to court might be too small.

The stepmother has turned away the two public defenders who were assigned to her case and has opted to leave her fate in God’s hands, the AJC reported. She has yet to produce witnesses or review discovery shared with her by the prosecution, according to the news organization.

“It looks like a prolonged suicide,” Jack Martin, an Atlanta lawyer, told the AJC. “God may be an all-powerful and merciful force in nature, but He’s a lousy criminal defense lawyer.”

READ MORE: Parents charged for putting their baby’s body in suitcase and throwing it away

Moss’s husband, Eman Moss, was also charged with the little girl’s murder, according to the AJC. He pleaded guilty four years ago and received a life sentence. He has agreed to testify against Tiffany Moss.

One legal expert told the news organization that no lawyer wants to go up against a defendant representing him or herself.

“In theory, defendants who represent themselves should know the rules of evidence and the protocols of trying a case,” University of Georgia law professor Alan Cook, a former district attorney, told the AJC. “Of course, they don’t. So this means the prosecution will have to do its job and do the defendant’s job too. That’s because you want a fair trial. You want the defendants to get due process.

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