'I was awake; everybody was asleep': Edmonton man charged in girl's death testifies

·4 min read

EDMONTON — A man testified at his murder trial that he no longer believes in conspiracies about aliens, 5G technology, jet streams raining poison and COVID-19 like he did moments before he stabbed a seven-year-old girl to death while her mother tried to save her.

"I believed that I was going to be abducted (by aliens) or was abducted," said David Moss, 36, who is seeking a ruling that he is not criminally responsible of second-degree murder in the killing of Bella Rose Desrosiers in May 2020.

"When you had visions of being abducted by an alien … do you believe that today?" asked defence lawyer Rod Gregory.

"To be honest, no," Moss responded Friday at his judge-alone trial in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench.

Moss testified that he grew up in a sexually, physically and verbally abusive household in Holden, Alta. He said his parents began giving him sips of alcohol when he was about nine and taught him spirituality. He also regularly smoked marijuana growing up, he said.

He was kicked out of school after Grade 10, he told court, and moved to Edmonton when he was 17. After someone threw a rock at his head and shattered his scalp, he couldn't speak properly and began having memory problems, he said.

A year after the injury he met his wife and they had four children together, he testified. He said he suffered from anxiety and was prescribed medication in 2019 for voices he was hearing, but didn't take it much.

In March 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to close his tattoo shop, his belief in conspiracies and a spiritual awakening intensified, Moss said.

"Everything was an illusion, I believed," he told court. "I just thought that I was awake and everybody was asleep … They weren't on a spiritual journey."

That's when Moss began posting on social media that COVID-19 vaccines had microchips in them.

Before Moss's testimony, his defence lawyer played videos in court of Moss hitting his head against the bed of his cell while in custody. Officers came inside the bloodied room and took him away.

A clip was also played of Moss attacking a health-care worker. He choked her as a guard repeatedly punched him before he let go.

The trial has already heard from Moss's estranged wife and his sister about how his mental health took an extreme and bizarre turn days before Bella's throat was slashed with scissors.

Moss was a new friend of the girl's mother, Melissa Desrosiers, and was staying at her home so she could take him to the hospital to get help for suicidal thoughts he had expressed that day.

Court has been told that Desrosiers had picked up Bella and her younger sister from their aunt's home and arrived with Moss at her house.

While he took a shower, Desrosiers took her daughters to their bedroom for the night. Their aunt was to babysit while Desrosiers took Moss to the hospital.

GRAPHIC WARNING: The following details may disturb some readers.

Court was told that Desrosiers was about to kiss Bella good night when Moss, wearing only shorts, appeared in the doorway. He was holding a pair of scissors he had retrieved from a kitchen drawer.

A statement of facts says Moss pushed Desrosiers aside and began slashing Bella in her neck with the 20-centimetre blade. Desrosiers fought him as she told her other daughter to run to the bathroom and lock herself inside.

Moss dragged Bella to the main floor of the home and continued cutting her neck.

The girl was found by police almost decapitated, the statement says. Moss, his hands and feet bloodied, was sitting on the couch. He was later found to have cannabis in his system.

Moss had told his wife, Tracy Couture-Strarosta, earlier that day that he wanted to hurt her, kill himself, and that he had sexually assaulted a young cousin.

Couture-Strarosta testified that she called Edmonton police and asked them to take him somewhere. A crisis response team evaluated him and scheduled another meeting at 4:30 p.m. that day, but he never went.

Moss's sister, Apryl Pfunder, testified that her brother told her a day or two before Bella's death that he was having thoughts of harming his four children.

She said he also told her that he was seeing spirits, demons and a little girl waving at him; and that he hadn't eaten or slept in five days because he wanted to stay in a spiritual world.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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