Two women say in a murder trial that aliens, 5G technology, the government and a spiritual awakening occupied a man’s mind before he was charged with fatally stabbing a seven-year-old girl .
David Moss, 36, is seeking a ruling that he is not criminally responsible for the second degree murder in the May 18, 2020 death of Bella Rose Desrosiers in her bedroom in southeast Edmonton.
His wife, Tracy Couture-Strarosta, and sister, Apryl Pfunder, testified on Wednesday how Moss’ mental health took an extreme turn before Desrosiers’ throat was slit with scissors.
“He told me he was having thoughts of harming himself and hurting Tracy and the children,” Pfunder said at the trial before judge alone.
Bella’s mother, Melissa Desrosiers, was a new friend of Moss at the time. She tried to defend her daughter, but Moss pushed her away, according to the agreed statement of facts in the case. Moss was then staying with the Desrosiers.
Pfunder testified that she grew up with Moss in High Level and Holden, Alberta. She said there was abuse in the family and they practiced spirituality using crystals.
Pfunder said Moss suffered severe brain damage after being hit with a rock as a teenager.
“They put him together like a puzzle and then put a metal plate inside his head,” she said.
Couture-Strarosta testified that a few years later she met Moss and had four children with him. She said the marriage was “good and bad” but he regularly argued with her over conspiracy theories that included aliens.
“He would just go like ‘they’re coming at me, I can feel it,'” Couture-Strarosta said.
She told the court he would wake up in the middle of the night to take walks away from a tower near their house which he said was creating vibrations in his ears.
After the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the family temporarily closed their tattoo shop.
A month later, “he decided he was going to leave me,” Couture-Strarosta said.
They continued to live in the same house with the children during the pandemic, but slept in separate bedrooms. Finances have become a concern. Couture-Strarosta said days before the murder that Moss began posting offensive rap songs about herself and her mother on social media.
A day before the murder, Couture-Strarosta said she woke up to the sound of Moss sobbing in her bedroom. He told her he had affairs with other women and was sexually abused by a cousin when he was nine years old.
Couture-Strarosta got angry and went to stay with her stepmother while Pfunder took care of their children. That night, Pfunder said Moss barricaded himself in his tattoo shop.
Pfunder testified that he told his older sister he saw spirits, demons and a little girl waving at her, and that he hadn’t eaten or slept in five days because he wanted to stay in the spirit world. But he promised Pfunder on the phone that he would eat and sleep that night.
The next morning, Couture-Strarosta said Moss called her and told her he was going to kill himself and kill her. He also told her that he had sexually assaulted a cousin.
“He wasn’t a David I had ever heard before,” Couture-Strarosta said tearfully on the witness stand.
She told the court she called the Edmonton Police and Crisis Response Team and asked them to take her somewhere. They assessed him and scheduled another meeting with them for 4:30 p.m. that day, but he never went.
Couture-Strarosta said Desrosiers’ mother, Melissa, volunteered to take Moss to the hospital for help. The two were new friends at the time.
Desrosiers picked up Bella and her younger sister from their aunt and arrived at her house with Moss that evening.
While Moss took a shower, Desrosiers took his daughters to their bedroom for the night. Their aunt had to babysit while Melissa took Moss to the hospital.
GRAPHIC WARNING: The following details may disturb some readers.
The court heard that Desrosiers was about to kiss Bella in the bedroom she shared with her sister when Moss, wearing only shorts, appeared in the doorway. He was holding a pair of scissors he had found in a kitchen drawer.
Crown attorney Shivani Naidu-Barrett said Moss pushed Desrosiers aside and began slashing his neck with the 20-centimeter blade. Desrosiers fought it off as she told her other daughter to run to the bathroom and lock herself inside.
“Moss continued to cut Bella’s neck to the point of almost decapitating her,” Naidu-Barrett said.
When the police arrived, they found Bella dead. Moss, his hands and feet bloody, sat on the couch.
Pfunder said she spoke to Moss while he was in police custody and he said he had no recollection of Bella’s murder.
The trial is due to continue Thursday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 8, 2022.
This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.