It was the first death sentence a Georgia jury has delivered in five years, and it was handed down last week to a woman who insisted on representing herself during the trial, presented no evidence, never addressed the jury, and didn’t ask witnesses any questions.
“What is clear from her actions and her emotionless response at the end of the trial is that, whether it is a mental health issue or a choice to die, or most likely both, is that the judge, the prosecutor, and the reluctant jurors are involved in the premeditated killing of a human being,” said death penalty lawyer and DPF board member Robert M. Sanger.
“No one will have an abiding conviction that justice was done.”
Tiffany Moss was sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Emani, whom she was convicted of starving to death. Her husband, Eman Moss, Emani’s father, had been facing a capital charge, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felony murder in exchange for a life sentence.
AJC.com reports that in a closed-door hearing, defenders presented evidence to the presiding judge that Tiffany Moss had brain damage, but the records remain under seal.
According to AJC.com, Moss refused to be represented by state capital defenders Brad Gardner and Emily Gilbert, who had been assigned to her case, and while Superior Court Judge George Hutchinson allowed her to represent herself, Gardner and Gilbert were present every day in the courtroom prepared to assist her, if asked. She never asked.
“We could talk about the judge’s ruling on Ms. Moss’ competence to represent herself — probably wrong but the record is sealed. We could talk about whether or not a person should be allowed to “stipulate” to death – the law says no and this seems to be close to it. But the real lesson of this case is that the death penalty is wrong,” Sanger said.
Her sentence will be automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Moss, who is 36, will be the only woman on Georgia’s death row.