The father of a 10-year-old girl whose charred, emaciated body was found stuffed in a Gwinnett County trash can in 2013 pleaded guilty Monday to felony murder in the death of Emani Moss.
“Mr. Moss loves his daughter,” Christian Lamar, the attorney for Eman Moss, told FOX 5 Atlanta. “After discussing the strength of the case against him, and also just what was the best thing that he wanted to do, this is where we came out.”
As part of the deal, Eman Moss agreed to testify against his wife, Tiffany Moss, who is also charged in the case.
Investigators never pegged Moss as the prime perpetrator in the death of his daughter but rather as a passive participant who failed to protect her, District Attorney Danny Porter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.
“It has always been our contention that the driving force was his wife,” Porter said. I don’t think he is the one who made the decision to starve his child to death. I think he acquiesced to it.”
Tiffany Moss made sure her own children were fed and clothed properly but isolated and starved her stepdaughter, Porter said.
The couple, who last year entered not guilty pleas, previously faced the death penalty. Because of Monday’s guilty plea, Porter recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for Eman Moss.
Investigators and prosecutors will debrief the father over next month and see whether he can provide critical testimony to help convict his wife, Porter said. The quality of that information could prompt a sentence of life with parole eligibility, Porter said.
“There are a lot of ‘I don’t knows,’ in his statement — he was working two jobs and he was gone much of the time,” Porter said. “He has agreed to testify, but I am not sure we can use him.”
Porter said he wants to know what happened to Emani, who weighed 32 pounds at the time of her death.
The guilty plea came 19 months after police discovered Emani’s body stuffed in the trash can outside her Gwinnett apartment on Nov. 2, 2013. Police said she was starved to death, denied food since Oct. 24.
The case brought renewed scrutiny to Georgia’s child welfare system. The state fired two employees and punished four others, finding that employees and supervisors with the Division of Family and Children Services failed to assess the risks to the child or to properly review the family’s troubled history.
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