A mug shot of Devin Moon after her arrest in the death of her daughter from malnutrition. She made a court appearance Friday on murder charges. Photo: Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office

Gwinnett D.A. Porter seeks death penalty in child starvation case

The Gwinnett County district attorney’s office plans to seek the death penalty in a case involving a Lawrenceville mother whose 2-year-old daughter died of starvation.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said he filed the notice of intent to seek the death penalty last week, after Devin Moon refused to discuss potential plea agreements. Moon’s daughter, Reygan, was nearly 3 when she died.

Porter said the case echoed the Tiffany Moss case, and he had no choice but to seek the death penalty for Moon since he had done so for Moss.

Moss was found guilty in April of starving her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Emani, then trying to burn her body. Moss represented herself in the case and did not mount a defense.

Jurors gave her the first death sentence in the county in five years.

“It’s practically identical,” Porter said of the Moon case. “I can’t justify not seeking it in this case.”

Moon was charged with felony murder and first degree cruelty to children in 2018. Reygan died in July of that year. Relatives had contacted the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services 10 times over the course of a year, expressing concern that Moon was incapable of caring for Reygan and was not feeding her, according to Reygan’s file.

Lawrence Lewis, who was defending Moon, said he kept his client apprised of the Moss case by sending her news clippings of the proceedings.

“In my mind, that was the exact same case,” he said. “Now you know a Gwinnett County jury will give a black mother death. To me, it’s obvious. We’ve seen this.”

But Moon rejected plea agreements that would have given her life without parole, then life with parole. Lewis doesn’t represent death penalty cases, and said he’s requested to be removed from the case.

“I suspect she wants to go to trial,” he said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported previously that between October 2017 and Reygan’s death, Moon worked as a stripper and left Reygan home alone most nights from about 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Police and prosecutors believe Reygan was confined to a bedroom closet; detectives found the closet covered in urine and feces, reaching as high as the child would have stood, Assistant District Attorney Charissa Henrich said.

An autopsy showed Reygan died of starvation and dehydration, and had no food in her stomach at her time of death. She weighed 14 pounds, about as much as an average 4-month-old infant, Henrich said.

Reygan was cared for by an aunt from about six weeks old until age 2, when the aunt refused to continue caring for her without being given legal guardianship, according to documents from the Georgia Division of Family and Child Services. Moon’s mother brought the toddler to a hospital in October 2017 with concerns that the child was underweight.

After that, Devin Moon refused to let any family members see the toddler, according to Gwinnett County police.

Porter said Moon had not taken responsibility or admitted guilt in Reygan’s death. As such, he said, his office had no choice but to move forward with the death penalty after plea offers were rejected.

“I have to look at the bigger picture of all cases,” he said. “There’s no significant difference.”

The case, in Gwinnett County Superior Court, has been assigned to Judge Warren Davis. It had been assigned to Judge Kathryn Schrader, but she was suspended after being indicted for felony computer trespass in a courthouse hacking investigation.

Moon was denied bond in September 2018. Lewis said he had requested a speedy trial, but withdrew the demand after the D.A.’s office indicated it planned to seek the death penalty if the case went to trial. The two sides continued to negotiate, but Moon didn’t accept the offers.

“Nobody can learn from anybody else,” Lewis said. “You’re talking about the same jury pool.”

Staff writer Amanda C. Coyne contributed to this story.

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