Stepmother sentenced to death in murder of 10-year-old; she starved her to death

A Georgia jury on Tuesday handed down the state's first death sentence in more than five years against a Gwinnett County woman convicted of murdering her stepdaughter.

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After two and a half hours of deliberation, the grim-faced jury of six men and six women sentenced Tiffany Moss to die by lethal injection for starving 10-year-old Emani to death in the fall of 2013. Moss showed no emotion as the unanimous decision was read aloud.

The final verdict capped off a disturbing trial. Testimony and autopsy photos revealed the grisly details of Emani's death and its grusome aftermath. Moss and her husband stuffed the girl's emaciated body in a trash can  and set it on fire to try and cover up the crime.

Moss becomes the only woman on death row in Georgia and, if executed, would be just the third woman put to death in the state's history.

Moss’s decision to represent herself was also highly unusual for a capital case.

The 36-year-old  did nothing to defend herself in either the guilt-innocence or sentencing phase of the trial. She didn't prepare for trial. She never once addressed the jury. She presented no evidence. And she asked no questions to any of the state's witnesses.

While Moss remained silent, prosecutors depicted a devastating portrait of a woman who kept the young girl with an infectious smile confined to her room and denied her food until she wasted away.

All the while, Moss fed and cared for her own two children who lived with the 10-year-old in an apartment complex near Lawrenceville.

"There's no joy when a jury imposes a death sentence," District Attorney Danny Porter said after court adjourned. "But this was one of the worst cases I've ever seen. The first time you look at it it made you sick. The last time you look at it it makes you sick."

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