District Attorney Danny Porter has said it was always the prosecution’s contention that Tiffany Moss made sure her own two children were fed and clothed properly and that she starved her stepdaughter intentionally.
Eman Moss worked two jobs and was seldom home, the prosecution said. The father was described as a passive participant in the crime, one who failed to protect his biological daughter despite the abuse.
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 Emani or to properly review the family’s troubled history.
In trying to make a case for a sentence of life with parole, Eman Moss’s lawyer, Christian Lamar, told the judge Friday that his client was not “a monster” but a father guilty of gross negligence.
Lamar said Tiffany Moss convinced her husband that if they sought medical care for Emani or went to the authorities, they would lose custody of their other children.
Lamar said Eman Moss tried to save his daughter’s life.
“He was trying to turn back the clock on something that he couldn’t because she was dying,” Lamar told the judge.
On the day his daughter’s body was found, police said Eman Moss called the authorities, threatening suicide. When officers arrived, he directed them to the trash can where they found his daughter’s charred body.
Eman Moss and Tiffany Moss both faced the death penalty when they entered not guilty pleas last year to their murder charges. The prosecutor recommended life without parole for the father in exchange for his testimony against his wife.
Porter has said the case warrants the death penalty because torture was involved. According to arrest warrants, Emani had been kept from eating for as many as a dozen days.
Gwinnett County Superior Court records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services agreed to a plea deal by then-Tiffany Nicole Brown that would give her five years’ probation on child cruelty charges for beating Emani in March 2010.
The trial for now Tiffany Moss has not been set, but it isn’t expected to start before next year, according to the prosecution.
In the letter he read to Emani on Friday, Eman Moss also addressed family and friends, and Gwinnett County, before being taken to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“I hope everyone can find it in their heart to forgive me.”
Staff writer Steve Visser and Channel 2 Action News contributed to this report.