GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County stepmother who murdered her stepdaughter has been sentenced to death.
Channel 2 Action News was there Monday when Tiffany Moss was convicted of starving 10-year-old Emani Moss and then trying to burn the girl's emaciated body in a trash can.
On Tuesday, the jury recommended the death penalty and Gwinnett Superior Court Judge George Hutchinson signed off on Moss' sentence.
Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas has followed this disturbing case from the beginning several years ago. Thomas said Moss had little reaction as she learned she was heading to death row.
Just like every time she was asked during the trial, Moss again refused to defend herself.
Thomas spoke with Emani Moss’ paternal grandmother Robin many times over the years. Tuesday, she left court emotional but insisting this was justice.
“It’s just too much. Everything is too much right now,” Robin Moss said. “Just leave it all to God and he takes care of it for me.”
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Moss will be the only woman currently on Georgia’s death row. Jurors found she tortured her stepdaughter and starved her to death. With the help of her husband Eman, Moss burned the little girl’s body in a trash can.
“This was certainly one of the worst cases I’ve ever experienced,” prosecutor Danny Porter told Thomas.
Porter told Channel 2 Action News that he couldn't sleep the night before the verdict because he wondered if Moss may have stumbled on a smart legal strategy: Do nothing.
Moss, 36, acted as her own lawyer in the capital case. She offered no defense, calling no witnesses and offering no opening statement or closing argument.
“It was going to be that these two big bullies had punched her around for a week and one juror would say there must be something wrong with her and I can't give the death penalty,” Porter told Thomas about his fears.
Porter and Lisa Jones offered Moss plea deals in the past, but when it came to trial, they pushed for the ultimate sentence.
“I thought a lot about her and what it must have been like to be her,” Jones said. “I would say that we are little bit surprised because the climate is very different when it comes to death as a verdict.”
Appeals are automatic in any death penalty case, but the question remains if Moss will let anyone defend her.
The death penalty in Georgia is rare. There are 55 men on death row right now. Moss would become the third woman ever executed in Georgia.
The first was a controversial execution of Lena Maker, a maid, in 1945. In 2015, the state carried out a death sentence for Kelly Gissendaner, who convinced her boyfriend to murder her husband.
Cox Media Group