WARNING: This article contains graphic details that readers may find disturbing.
An Edmonton tattoo artist who admits he stabbed a seven-year-old girl to death pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder Monday in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench.
David Moss's defence lawyer will spend the next three weeks trying to convince Justice Steven Mandziuk that his client should be found not criminally responsible for the May 2020 death of Bella Rose Desrosiers.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Moss and Bella's mother, Melissa Desrosiers, grew up in neighbouring Alberta small towns and knew of each other in high school.
A year before Bella died, Desrosiers became friends with Moss after getting a tattoo from him.
Two months later, Desrosiers' husband killed himself in their south Edmonton home. Moss gave her a tattoo at no charge to commemorate her husband.
On the morning of May 18, 2020, Desrosiers became concerned after Moss made some comments that made her think he might be suicidal.
She invited Moss to her house and made a point of hiding knives in her bedroom closet.
When he arrived, Moss said he was tired and went to the third floor of the split-level house to take a shower and have a nap.
Crown prosecutor Shivani Naidu-Barrett said Desrosiers asked her aunt to come and watch the girls after they were asleep so she could take Moss to the hospital.
Desrosiers began tucking in her two daughters.
She read four-year-old Lily a bedtime story and kissed her goodnight on the bottom bunk in the bedroom the sisters shared.
She was just about to kiss Bella when Moss suddenly appeared at the doorway, wearing only underwear and brandishing a pair of scissors.
"Mr. Moss pushed Ms. Desrosiers aside and quickly approached Bella on the top bunk," Naidu-Barrett said. "Using the scissors, Mr. Moss slashed Bella's neck and pulled her from the top bunk."
The girls' mother tried to fight Moss. She suffered some minor defensive injuries. Court was told she yelled at Lily to run to the upstairs bathroom and lock the door. The four-year-old ran to safety.
"Mr. Moss dragged Bella's body down the stairs and into the living room area … leaving a trail of blood," Naidu-Barrett said.
He continued to attack the girl with scissors. Afterward, he sat on the couch in the living room. His hands and feet were covered in blood.
'It was a murder'
Desrosiers got the scissors away from Moss and threw them outside the house. She called 911 and was trying to provide first aid when police arrived. Paramedics declared Bella dead. Moss was immediately taken into custody.
According to the agreed statement of facts, once he was at police headquarters, Moss told officers his fingers were cut.
When he was asked how that happened, he replied, "It was a murder."
Six minutes later, Moss added without prompting, "Do you know why I did it? Because I f--king liked it."
The Crown opened and closed its case on Monday morning. The onus is on the defence to prove that Moss should be found not criminally responsible.
The trial resumes Wednesday.
Moss is expected to take the stand on Friday. Melissa Desrosiers is scheduled to testify next week.
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.