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Step mom representing herself in death penalty trial confuses jurors

Tiffany Moss’ decision to represent herself in her death penalty trial confounds and confuses some prospective jurors.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — “I’m concerned with the seriousness of the charges with anyone who would want to represent themselves,” answered a prospective juror in Gwinnett County Super Court today. “But it’s her right to do that.”

The juror was being questioned by Asst. District Attorney Lisa Jones, who is one of the prosecutors in the Tiffany Moss trial. Moss is accused of starving her 10-year-old stepdaughter to death in 2013. Emani Moss’ body was then burned, allegedly in an effort to cover the crime, and placed in a dumpster outside the family’s Gwinnett Co. apartment.

If convicted, Tiffany Moss faces 3 possible sentences:

  • Death penalty
  • Life in prison without parole
  • Life in prison with the possibility of parole

If sentenced to death, Moss would be just the third woman executed in Georgia. It’s her decision to represent herself that is causing some jurors to pause.

“I don’t know that I would make that choice,” answered a prospective juror today. “It’s hard to understand why someone would make that choice.”

That juror was ultimately released from duty because of her anti-death penalty views. Finding jurors who are not conscientiously opposed to the death penalty has also been a challenge in the court case.

More: Tiffany Moss trial highlights death penalty opinions among jurors

It's an opinion that has been mirrored by a number of jurors since jury selection began last week.

“If you’ve chosen to defend yourself, you have no regrets,” responded one juror last week when asked about the defendant’s decision to defend herself.

Moss has two court-appointed attorneys sitting behind her. They were assigned by the judge to answer any legal questions she may have. So far, Moss has only spoken to them once during court proceedings.

The seriousness of the crime is evident when the jurors are being questioned. Several have heard of the case but others have only heard the charges Moss is facing. The Judge reads the full indictment to prospective jurors when he swears them in.

Tiffany Moss faces six counts of murder and concealing a death, plus two counts of felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children.

“I do think there is evil and evil needs to go away,” answered one potential juror today when questioned about her belief on the death penalty.

RELATED: Grim details of 10-year-old's death upset prospective juror

Most of the jurors relieved from duty in this case have been excused due to their anti-death penalty beliefs. Several others have been excused from duty due to language barriers.

Eman Moss, Tiffany’s husband, signed a plea deal in 2015. He is serving a life sentence without parole but does not face the death penalty. He will likely testify against his wife in her trial.

As of midday Monday, 50 jurors qualified for service. Fifty-four are needed to move to final jury selection. The Judge indicated final jury selection would likely happen on Tuesday and the trial would move quickly from there. He said, at one point during the morning, he expects the trial to be completed by May 7.


The 10-year-old was starved to death and then burned. The trial begins today.

She could become only the third woman executed in Georgia

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