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Ga. Woman Facing Death Penalty in Stepdaughter’s Murder Is Still Representing Herself in Court


Like a lot of murder defendants facing the death penalty, Georgia woman Tiffany Moss isn’t going to prison without a fight. Unlike a lot of murder defendants, she’s representing herself in that fight. So far, she’s managed a small victory.

Moss won a motion on Tuesday to keep a potential juror in the pool, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Winning an acquittal might be a lot tougher than that. She’s on trial for allegedly participating in the fatal starvation and burning of her 10-year-old stepdaughter Emani Moss in 2013. The victim’s stepfather Eman Moss pleaded guilty in 2015 and is set to testify against the defendant.

Prosecutors argue that Tiffany Moss took care of her own children, but starved Emani to death.

The defendant won a motion on Tuesday to keep Juror 30 in the pool. This potential juror said she wasn’t a fan of the “death penalty,” and said it was inconsistently applied. She also mentioned a bad experience with law enforcement, and said she thought a friend of hers was falsely convicted of sexual assault. District Attorney Danny Porter moved to have her removed from the jury pool, but Moss successfully objected, saying the woman promised to consider all sentencing options, including the death penalty.

The defendant got her way. Nonetheless, the fact she insists on representing herself (pro se) gave the court some fits. The presiding judge repeatedly urged Moss to get representation.

“They are seeking to have you executed, and I can’t be more blunt than to say they are trying to have you killed,” Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge George Hutchinson told her 2018. “That’s just as serious as it can possibly get and I think it’s best that you have an attorney.”

Moss insisted on representing herself, and instead put her faith in divine guidance, according to an AJC report at the time.

The question is whether she’s going to put any of that faith in motion. Even back then, she was described as being passive about the process.

“Sometimes it’s like looking at a blank wall,” Porter said last year.

That doesn’t seem to have changed. Moss does have access to two court-appointed attorneys. They’re sitting behind her during court to answer any legal questions she might have. Then again, she has said relatively little in the first three days of juror selection, according to an 11 Alive report.

Hutchinson found Moss competent to stand trial. Moss’ court-appointed lawyers appealed the judge’s decision to let her be her own lawyer, but the Georgia Supreme Court declined last December to even hear the case.

Jury selection is ongoing as of Wednesday.

Ashley Willcott contributed to this report.

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