LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) A 10-year-old girl weighed just 32 pounds when her burned body was found last week in a trash bin, a Gwinnett County police detective testified Friday.
The father and stepmother of Emani Moss have been charged with murder, concealing a body and child cruelty. Both were in court for a probable cause hearing Friday.
During the hearing, police Detective Collin Flynn said the girl's father, Eman Moss, told police different stories about what happened to his daughter, whose burned and emaciated body was found Saturday. Flynn said Eman Moss first told him his daughter had ingested chemicals and then claimed his wife, Tiffany, had poisoned her.
Later, Eman Moss told the detective that he had come home and found his daughter having seizures, Flynn said. Police have said they believe the girl was starved to death over the course of several days.
"At one point in the interview, he just leaned back in his chair and just said out of the blue, 'I'm guilty, I killed my baby,'" Flynn testified during the hearing.
Outside court, Eman Moss' attorney, John Burdges, would not say what his client had discussed with him or whether his client had even spoken with police, according to 11 Alive/WXIA-TV.
"I can't tell you what my client said, but it's a sad case," Burdges said.
Earlier, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Georgia's child protection agency had dismissed a report that Emani Moss had been beaten with a belt without sending caseworkers to interview her, examine her injuries or question her parents.
Agency officials characterized the beatings described by Emani Moss as ``corporal punishment'' and effectively ended its investigation despite four prior maltreatment investigations involving the child, including one that resulted in her stepmother's conviction on a child cruelty charge.
Her case and a separate death involving a 12-year-old boy have prompted the agency to review hundreds of cases that were closed with little or no investigation.
"The deaths of these two children are just devastating to us," the agency's director, Sharon Hill, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "My goal is to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Redacted records show a DFCS worker took a call from Emani's school on May 17, 2012. The girl said that she had been beaten with a belt for eating breakfast too slowly. "The injury was identified as insignificant," the report said, "and determined to be corporal punishment."
Hill said the incident was one of several missed opportunities to help the girl. She said employees who dismissed the case should have taken the family history into account.
"When you put that together," she said, "it certainly does elevate it to a different level."