WARNING: This article contains graphic details that readers may find disturbing.
A heartbroken mother did not have to face the man accused of murdering her seven-year-old daughter when she testified at his trial Wednesday afternoon.
David Moss, 36, is charged with second-degree murder in the May 2020 death of Bella Rose Desrosiers.
He admits he stabbed the girl with a pair of scissors, but his lawyer is seeking a finding of not criminally responsible.
The defence closed its case on Wednesday and the first Crown rebuttal witness was Bella’s mother, Melissa Desrosiers.
She testified remotely from a courthouse room outside the courtroom where the trial is being held.
The 37-year-old registered nurse sat on a couch with a Zebra Centre support dog by her side and a psychologist in a chair next to the couch.
Desrosiers said she knew Moss through her late husband’s family and knew of him because she’d grown up in a nearby small town.
In June 2019, Desrosiers got a tattoo from Moss and the two became Facebook friends. In July 2019, her husband, Ben Desrosiers, killed himself. She testified Moss gave her a memorial tattoo free of charge.
The day Bella was killed, Desrosiers said she got a text message that morning from Moss. He said he wanted to talk to her on the phone about her dead husband.
“He was talking about how he understood why my husband completed suicide,” Desrosiers said. “He was saying because my husband couldn’t live his fears out here, that’s why he did what he did.
“He said he understood where Ben was at.”
Desrosiers said she became increasingly concerned as the day progressed about Moss’s state of mind. She didn’t think he should be alone.
Crown prosecutor Shivani Naidu-Barrett asked Desrosiers what role her husband’s suicide played in deciding to go to Moss’s house.
“My fear was that he would kill himself and he had a family and I didn’t want the same loss for another family that I had,” Desrosiers testified as she fought back tears.
Accused ‘didn’t seem like he was in a safe place’
Desrosiers said Moss looked unkempt and sullen when she entered his house. He told her he hadn’t eaten or slept in days.
“At some point during the conversation, he made a comment to the effect that he should go to the hospital and that he was ready,” Desrosiers said. “He still didn’t seem like he was in a safe place to be by himself.”
Moss agreed to go to Desrosiers’ south Edmonton house with her. She hoped to take him to the hospital after she got her children to sleep.
“I didn’t want him to kill himself,” she said.
Along the way, Desrosiers picked up her two daughters from her aunt’s home and Bella and Lily gave him some artwork they created.
When the group got to her house, Desrosiers said Moss went to a bedroom in the basement where he took a nap and had a shower.
Desrosiers said she was focused on getting her daughters tucked in because it was a school night, but first she checked on Moss.
“He was sitting on the bed,” she testified. “I sat down next to him and I remember him saying that he was anxious.”
The fatal attack
Desrosiers had her back to the door of her daughters’ room. She was just about to kiss Bella good-night in her top bunk and did not see Moss when he entered the room.
After the horrific attack on the seven-year-old, Desrosiers said she was swearing and screaming at Moss, asking him “Why? Why?”.
She said Moss told her, “I’m doing this for Ben,” referring to her late husband.
Court has been told that afterward, Moss sat on the couch in the living room on the couch.
“I don’t remember him saying anything,” Desrosiers said. “Just sitting there staring.
“I kept saying get out of my f–king house and he just sat there.”
The trial continues.
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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