Crisis team saw no grounds to apprehend Moss before he killed girl

‘We sat in the car after and I said, ‘Did we miss anything?’ an officer testified Thursday. ‘Y no. There was nothing, legally, that we could have (apprehended) him’

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Warning: this story contains disturbing details, including references to suicide, domestic abuse and violence against children.

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A psychiatric nurse and two police officers who assessed David Moss hours before he killed a seven-year-old girl testified Thursday that Moss didn’t show signs that he posed an imminent danger.

Edmonton’s Police and Crisis Team (PACT) registered nurse Felistas Takawira went to Moss’s home with two constables on the afternoon of May 18, 2020 — the same day Moss attacked and killed Bella Rose Desrosiers in her home. The girl’s mother had brought Moss there with the intention of driving him to the hospital, concerned that he was suicidal.

Moss says he’s not criminally responsible for Bella’s death, claiming he killed her in a psychotic state linked to a brain injury.

PACT pairs up officers with mental-health professionals to respond to people in crisis and help connect them to resources — or, if they’re a threat to themselves or others, they can be apprehended under Alberta’s Mental Health Act.

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The three members of PACT spent about an hour with Moss that day, and all said they couldn’t see grounds for an apprehension.

Takawira, who has more than 20 years experience as a psychiatric nurse, said PACT got involved after Moss’s wife reported he was behaving “bizarrely” and had made threats to kill himself. Court has previously heard that Moss also threatened to kill his wife, and she and their four children were staying elsewhere.

The nurse testified that when she spoke with Moss, he described an “awakening” he’d had five days earlier, which she believed was likely a psychotic episode.

“He described having seen all sorts of images and signs everywhere during the awakening. As per my report at that time, he said he’d returned to reality and he was no longer having these experiences.”

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Takawira said Moss expressed being stressed about his marital problems, but he was co-operative and calm during their conversation, and he didn’t seem to be having paranoid thoughts or experiencing active psychosis.

“He told me that he was stressed, upset and scared… We talked about having chronic feelings of loneliness, wanting to stay positive but feeling scared.”

Moss said his thoughts about harming his wife had been limited to his “awakening,” and that was over.

EPS Const. Natasha Brinkmann said she also didn’t see any red flags.

“He was very lucid, and he minimized the entire situation, led us to believe that he was not going to hurt anyone,” she said, describing Takawira’s assessment as “excessively thorough” and the nurse specifically asked whether he was going to hurt his family members.

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“He said ‘No, I would never hurt my children, I would hurt myself before I hurt my children.’”

Asked by the Crown if she had safety concerns about Moss, Brinkmann said, “Sadly, no.”

“We sat in the car after and I said, ‘Did we miss anything?’ Y no. There was nothing, legally, that we could have (apprehended) him.”

The assessment ended with Takawira making an appointment for Moss to see a psychiatrist that afternoon. An acquaintance who had come to the house earlier that day to check on Moss agreed to drive him there.

But after PACT left, the man testified that Moss accused him of being “negative” and told him to leave, that he didn’t want to go to the appointment after all.

The trial is scheduled to continue Monday.

masmith@postmedia.com

@meksmith

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