Police officers, nurse say no grounds to apprehend David Moss hours before killing

·3 min read
David Moss in a photo taken after he was charged in the death of Bella Rose Desrosiers. (Edmonton Police Service/Court exhibit - image credit)
David Moss in a photo taken after he was charged in the death of Bella Rose Desrosiers. (Edmonton Police Service/Court exhibit - image credit)

Just hours before David Moss attacked and killed a seven-year-old girl with scissors, he convinced two police officers and an experienced psychiatric nurse that he was not a threat to himself or anyone else.

Moss, 36, is on trial for second-degree murder in the May 18, 2020 death of Bella Rose Desrosiers. His lawyer is seeking a finding of not criminally responsible, arguing that his client was psychotic at the time of the offence.

Court has already heard that on the day Bella was killed, Moss's estranged wife contacted the police in the morning to report concerns about his mental health. Tracy Couture-Starosta testified last week that Moss told her he planned to kill her and then himself.

Her phone call to police led to a visit early that afternoon by a three-member Police and Crisis Team (PACT). The two constables and a registered psychiatric nurse decided to conduct an in-person mental health assessment.

The trio testified in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench on Thursday. All three said that after spending an hour with Moss, they did not believe they had the grounds to apprehend him under the Mental Health Act.

"He was pretty calm in his demeanour," nurse Felistas Takawira said. "He told me he was stressed, upset and scared."

The nurse told the court that Moss said he had a plan earlier in the day to slit his throat, but that thoughts of his family stopped him.

Takawira testified that he told her his vision about harming his wife occurred five days earlier while he was in a state of spiritual awakening. She said Moss insisted he no longer harboured those thoughts.

Const. Natasha Brinkmann told the court that she thought Moss was very lucid and clear during the visit.

"He minimized the entire situation," Brinkmann said. "Led us to believe he was not going to harm anyone.

"He said, 'I would hurt myself before I would hurt my family.'"

Melissa Desrosiers/Facebook
Melissa Desrosiers/Facebook

The nurse said she didn't believe Moss when he told her he was an occasional cannabis user. He told her the last time he'd smoked cannabis was five days earlier, coinciding with what he called his awakening.

Takawira testified that she thought the awakening was actually a psychotic break and that his complaints about lack of sleep and not eating could be attributed to drug withdrawal symptoms.

During the visit, Takawira called a psychiatric clinic and made an appointment for him to see a psychiatrist later that day. Moss told the PACT team he would see the doctor, but court has previously heard that as soon as they left, Moss decided to skip the appointment.

"He convinced us he was fine," Brinkmann testified.

The Crown prosecutor asked her if she had any concerns for her safety while she was in Moss's presence.

"Sadly, no," she replied. "Back in the car, we all agreed that legally there was nothing that was said or done for him to be apprehended under the Mental Health Act."

The trial continues Monday with psychiatric experts testifying for the Crown.

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.

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