WARNING: This article contains graphic details that readers may find disturbing.
The day before an Edmonton tattoo artist attacked a seven-year-old girl with a pair of scissors, he told his wife he knew he was going to jail for a very long time for committing murder.
David Moss admits he killed Bella Rose Desrosiers in May 2020 but his lawyer has begun trying to convince Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench Justice Steven Mandziuk that the 36-year-old should be found not criminally responsible.
On Wednesday, the first witness called by the defence was Moss's estranged wife, Tracy Couture-Starosta.
The mother-of-four testified she married Moss in 2008 and throughout their marriage, he was paranoid and anxious.
She said Moss was obsessed with conspiracy theories, thought he would be abducted by aliens and was convinced that living close to cellphone towers caused body vibrations and ringing in his ears.
By 2019, the couple's already strained relationship was crumbling, she said.
Couture-Starosta said that in February 2019, Moss quit his job at a tattoo shop and began writing and posting rap songs online.
In March 2019 he called her to say he needed help.
"He said I feel like I'm going to kill you and the kids," she testified. "I wasn't afraid. I was more concerned."
Couture-Starosta said she took her husband to the hospital where he was prescribed sleeping pills.
The couple opened their own tattoo shop in the spring of 2019 with financial support from his parents. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, they closed their business. Couture-Starosta said Moss's mental health deteriorated even more.
"He decided he was going to leave me," Couture-Starosta testified. "He was done with our marriage. He felt like I was holding him back."
Moss began sleeping in a separate bedroom and started looking for an apartment.
In the week leading up to the fatal stabbing on May 18, 2020, Couture-Starosta said her husband wouldn't come out of his room.
"He was saying he was in an awakening and that he didn't need to eat or drink," she told the court.
On May 16, he angrily told his wife he was no longer in a state of spiritual awakening.
The next morning, Couture-Starosta testified she woke up early in the morning to the sound of her husband sobbing and screaming in his bedroom.
She said Moss confessed to her that he had multiple affairs during their marriage and that he had to be the one to hurt her and leave her alone.
Couture-Starosta fled to her mother-in-law's house and had her sister-in-law take the children.
Apryl Pfunder said her brother looked distraught and vacant when she picked up the children.
"He wasn't there anymore," Pfunder testified.
"He was broken. He was gone."
'He's going to kill me'
The next morning, Couture-Starosta said her husband called her and calmly told her that he had two plans.
She said he told her his first plan was to kill himself. The second plan was to go to jail for murder.
"I said 'who David? What is going on?'" Couture-Starosta testified as she began to cry.
"He said I'm sorry but it's you," she recounted.
"I was afraid. He's going to kill me."
Couture-Starosta said she phoned police and begged them to take Moss somewhere. She said she was advised to stay away from him.
The Police and Crisis Response Team visited Moss and referred him to a psychologist, but Couture-Starosta said he angrily skipped the late afternoon appointment they had set up.
Meanwhile, Melissa Desrosiers, the mother of the little girl who would die that night, was in regular contact with Moss throughout the day. Couture-Starosta said Desrosiers felt compelled to help Moss and was going to take him to her house.
Couture-Starosta testified she tried to convince Desrosiers to stay away, to no avail.
According to an agreed statement of facts that was entered at the start of the trial on Monday, Moss attacked seven-year-old Bella Rose Desrosiers with a pair of scissors while her mother was tucking her in.
Desrosiers texted Couture-Starosta with three chilling words.
"He killed Bella."
Moss was taken into custody that night.
On Thursday, the judge will watch a recorded police interview as the trial continues. Moss is expected to take the stand on Friday.
If you or someone you know is struggling, here's where to get help:
This guide from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health outlines how to talk about suicide with someone you're worried about.