It look a Gwinnett County jury less than three hours on Monday to convict Tiffany Moss of murder and several other charges for starving her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Emani Moss, to death.
On Tuesday, just after 10 a.m., the jurors delivered their sentence: death by lethal injection.
The sentence comes as a victory for Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, who announced his intent to seek the death penalty early on in the case.
Porter reiterated that intent to the jury Monday afternoon, following its guilty verdict.
"Our criminal justice system is based on an idea that you have to pay, you have to submit to the law, depending on what crime you commit," Porter said. "A parking ticket may cost you $10. A speeding ticket may cost you more. A burglary is probably going to cost you some years. But there are some crimes that are so horrible, so heinous, the only balance you can pay is with your life."
Moss was convicted, on the fourth day of the trial, of all six charges brought against her: one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of first degree cruelty to children and one count of concealing the death of another.
While Moss sat quietly through the entire proceedings -- she did not present any defense and made no attempt to cross-examine any witnesses -- Porter and Chief Assistant District Attorney Lisa Jones told the story of an evil stepmother who wanted to be rid of her stepdaughter.
"Emani was nothing (to Moss); she was a nuisance, she was ugly, she was nothing," Jones said during closing arguments on Monday. "She was a pain, she was disposable, she was trash."
Through testimony from 18 witnesses, Porter and Jones impressed upon the jury just how heinous the crimes against Emani were, beginning with abuse in 2010 when Moss struck Emani with a brown leather belt over and over again, sometimes with the buckle side.
Moss, who pleaded guilty to child cruelty at the time, was given probation, though it apparently had no effect on her, given three-and-a-half years later, she starved Emani to death -- a slow and painful process, Porter reminded the jury on Monday.
"In the final witness called by the state, (Medical Examiner) Dr. (Michele) Stauffenberg talked about features of starvation and the sequence of starvation," Porter said. "The first phase is there's a loss of well-being, hunger pains and food cravings. The second stage is apathy and fatigue and weight loss, pigmentation changes in the skin ... a feral look, hypothermia. (Then) extreme lethargy and mental retardation, nutritional edema, immune suppression, infection, diarrhea and death."
As if the process of being starved to death was not horrific enough, Porter and Jones emphasized throughout the trial, once Emani finally died, Moss and her husband, Eman Moss, put the girl in a computer room for a day or two before disposing of her body.
When they were ready to rid themselves of the girl, Eman Moss bought a galvanized trash can, but because Emani's body had gone into rigor mortis, he and Moss had to break down her body -- Eman Moss testified on Thursday that the noises Emani's body made as they duct taped her were "cracking sounds" -- until they managed to fit the child into the metal can.
From there, they took her to a wooded area, doused her in kerosene and set her aflame. When they realized her body wouldn't burn as they wanted her to, they extinguished the fire, put the the trash can in the trunk of the car and drove home.
Eman Moss drove to and from his two jobs the following day before finally calling 911, while Moss took off with the couple's two younger children. She ultimately turned herself in to police.
'The evil that is within her'
In asking the jury to render a death sentence to Moss on Monday, Porter said the 35-year-old was the mastermind behind Emani's death.
"Eman came in, he pled guilty, he's serving a sentence of life without parole. ... Is Eman a hero? No, Ms. Jones said it exactly right: he's a murderer. He was part of it, but his part was neglect. (Moss') part was intention," Porter said. "When you really look at it, do you think that fool Eman could have really come up with this plan? Do you really think he was the brains of the outfit? No, he wasn't. He was seduced and enamoured and under the influence of this defendant to the extent to which he was willing to turn his eyes away from his own child, and he was willing to go along with this horrendous scheme to dispose of that baby."
Because of that, Porter charged the jury, they should return a sentence of death -- not life with the possibility of parole.
"When you think about (life with the possibility of parole), let me ask you this: do you think she's going to change? Do you think she's going to rehabilitate?" Porter asked. "The answer to that is no. She's shown you too much of herself, she's shown you too much of the evil that is within her ... there will always be that dark side, waiting to come out."
Porter made a similar argument against life without parole.
"A lot of people, like you and me, think, 'If I was put in prison for the rest of my life and never, ever able to be released out, that would be worse than the death penalty, because I'd have to sit there every day and suffer and think about what I did,'" Porter said. "But that's you and me; she's not wired that way. She doesn't have that conscience, and the reason I can say that with such confidence is the nature of the crime. Who in the world conceives of, and executes, a plan to starve a 10-year-old child to death? Think about that."
The only option, Porter said, which he ultimately convinced the jury of, was death.
"What this defendant has really done is she has woken up every day since September of 2013 when they moved into the apartment and she's decided, 'I'm going to kill that baby,'" Porter said. "She woke up the next day and said, 'I'm going to take care of my kids, I'm going to take care of my house, I'm going to make sure there's food in the house, but I'm going to kill that baby. I'm going to kill Emani today.' For 60 days ... it was a cold, calculated, every day you wake up and you go, 'I'm going to kill her.'"
"Ladies and gentlemen, (Moss) isn't going to think about that, she's not going to suffer for that, because it didn't bother her for 60 days," Porter continued. "She decided Emani was going to die, she decided how it was going to happen and she made it happen. That is why I believe that this case does call for justice, this case does call for a sentence that speaks the truth as to punishment. I'm not going to say it's easy, but sometimes doing the right thing isn't easy."
The jury took about an hour on Tuesday to deliver its sentence.