Tiffany Moss, the woman who was sentenced to death in April for starving her 10-year-old stepdaughter to death then disposing of the girl’s body in a trash can, has accepted legal representation in her death penalty appeal.
Josh Moore, the appellate director for the Office of the Capital Defender, a division of the Georgia Public Defender Council, and Thea Delage, a staff attorney there, sat on either side of Moss at a Friday morning hearing before Gwinnett County Superior Court Chief Judge George Hutchinson, who presided over the April trial.
The hearing was held to set a date for another hearing on Moore and Delage’s motion for a new trial. Hutchinson set the date of that hearing for Nov. 15.
Moss’ representation on Friday comes as a surprise, given she refused counsel throughout her five-day trial. While she had two “standby” attorneys present during the court proceedings — the two unsuccessfully argued for months prior for the court to deny Moss’ request to represent herself — Moss repeatedly told Hutchinson she would serve as her own defense.
Through the trial, Moss did not present any defense, however, and made no attempt to cross-examine any witnesses. She then sat quietly as Hutchinson read the guilty verdict, and a day later, her death sentence.
Moss’ sentence was the first in five years in the state of Georgia; the last time a jury imposed death was in March 2014 to Adrian Hargrove, an Augusta man who committed a triple murder.
While Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter and Chief Assistant District Attorney Lisa Jones applauded the jury’s verdict and sentence at the time, Moss’ “standby counsel,” Brad Gardner and Emily Gilbert, who were assigned to Moss from the State Office of the Capital Defender after the court granted her the right to represent herself in the capital trial, were visibly upset with the results.
“I think this ridiculous spectacle speaks for itself,” Gilbert said after the court adjourned. “(We’ll appeal); it’ll be another whole team, plus us. There will probably be lawyers all over the country that want to help us with this.”
Gilbert was not wrong in her prediction; Moore and Delage hope to convince Hutchinson in November to grant a new trial.
That hearing will be held at 9 a.m.