Edmonton

Accused killer of girl, 7, transferred to Alberta Hospital for assessment

A man accused of stabbing a seven-year-old girl to death was visited in his home hours before the killing to be assessed by a police and mental health crisis team.

Police, crisis teams assessed David Moss hours before Bella Rose Desrosiers was stabbed to death

David Michael Moss, 34, has been charged with second-degree murder. (Instagram/David Moss)

An Edmonton man accused of stabbing a seven-year-old girl to death this week is now in Alberta Hospital for an assessment of his fitness to stand trial.

David Michael Moss, 34, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Bella Rose Desrosiers on Monday evening.

Moss was scheduled to appear Friday in Edmonton provincial court, but Judge Francine Roy was told Moss was transferred Thursday from the Edmonton Remand Centre to Alberta Hospital Edmonton.

Defence lawyer Rod Gregory has been hired to represent Moss. He and Crown prosecutor Laurie Trahan made a joint application for a 30-day fitness assessment. Roy granted the application.

A fitness assessment is conducted by a psychiatrist to determine if an accused is fit to stand trial. The accused must understand the charge that has been laid and the court process, and must have the ability to provide instructions to a lawyer.

Moss is due back in court June 19.

His mental health came to the attention of a police and mental health crisis team hours before the girl was killed. 

The Edmonton Police Service "was made aware" on Monday that David Moss was experiencing "mental concerns," a police spokesperson said.

Police spokesperson Patrycja Mokrzan told CBC News that two constables and a mental health professional went to Moss's residence in north Edmonton. It is not clear whether the mental health professional was a social worker, registered nurse or registered psychiatric nurse.

"Mr. Moss was assessed by PACT (Police and Crisis Team) and agreed to attend a doctor's appointment later in the day," Mokrzan wrote in an email. "When PACT left the residence, there was another friend present with Mr. Moss providing support."

Hours after that assessment, Bella Rose Desrosiers was stabbed to death in her bed at her family's home in southeast Edmonton. Moss was taken into custody at the scene.

Victim's mother encouraged him to get help

The girl's mother, Melissa Desrosiers, was friends with Moss, and told CBC News on Tuesday that he had been suffering a mental breakdown the day before and that she had convinced him to get help. 

She wanted him to be admitted to hospital, and said he had agreed.

Melissa Desrosiers spoke to the media on Wednesday evening in the wake of her daughter's death. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

She had someone come to her house to watch her two young daughters, aged four and seven, while she went to Moss's home.

Desrosiers told CBC she wouldn't have intervened had PACT taken Moss to hospital. She ended up taking him back to her house, and said once he got there he rested and took a nap.

That evening, Desrosiers said, she was tucking her daughters into bed when Moss lunged into the bedroom armed with scissors.

She told CBC News that in hindsight she shouldn't have had Moss in her home.

Melissa Desrosiers has been an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health awareness since her husband Ben died by suicide on July 16, 2019. 

Individual behaviour can be 'unpredictable'

An annual policing plan released by Edmonton police in 2017 stated that the goal of PACT was to find a community-based solution rather than hospitalization in 90 per cent of its assessments.

An Alberta Health Services spokesperson said PACT members use their experience and expertise to assess risk. 

"They always err on the side of caution and use the tools at their disposal to keep individuals and the public safe," the AHS spokesperson wrote in an email. 

"Unfortunately, individual behaviours leading to tragic outcomes can be highly unpredictable."

The AHS spokesperson declined to provide specifics about Moss, citing patient confidentiality and the ongoing police investigation.

Mokrzan said AHS told police later on Monday that Moss had not followed through with his doctor's appointment. 

A recent photo of Lily, Bella and Melissa Desrosiers. (Melissa Desrosiers/Facebook)

Moss is a tattoo artist. Xavier Doucet, who had been working with him as an apprentice since January, said Moss told him he had suffered a brain injury after being hit over the head with a rock when he was younger.

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

With files from Natasha Riebe