EDMONTON — A man testified at his murder trial that he thought he was in an illusion or video game while he was stabbing a seven-year-old girl and her mother was trying to fight him off.
David Moss, who is seeking a ruling that he is not criminally responsible in the second-degree murder of Bella Rose Desrosiers, said Friday that the voice of the demon that told him to harm the girl has quieted since he started taking medication.
He also no longer believes in conspiracies about aliens, 5G technology, jet streams raining poison, spiritual awakenings and COVID-19 like he did moments before Bella was found in a pool of her blood, Moss told his judge-alone trial before the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench.
"I believed that I was going to be abducted (by aliens) or was abducted," said Moss, 36.
"When you had visions of being abducted by an alien … do you believe that today?" defence lawyer Rod Gregory asked Moss.
"To be honest, no," he responded.
Moss testified that he grew up in a sexually, physically and verbally abusive household in Holden, Alta. He said his parents began giving him sips of alcohol when he was about nine and taught him spirituality. He also regularly smoked marijuana growing up, he said.
He was kicked out of school after Grade 10, he told court, and moved to Edmonton when he was 17. After someone threw a rock at his head and shattered his scalp, he couldn't speak properly and began having memory problems, he said.
A year after the injury he met his wife and they had four children together, he testified. He said he suffered from anxiety and was prescribed medication in 2019 for voices he was hearing, but didn't take it much.
In March 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to close his tattoo shop, his belief in conspiracies and a spiritual awakening intensified, Moss said.
"Everything was an illusion, I believed," he told court. "I just thought that I was awake and everybody was asleep … They weren't on a spiritual journey."
That's when Moss began posting on social media that COVID-19 vaccines had microchips in them.
GRAPHIC WARNING: The following details may disturb some readers.
Before Moss's testimony, his defence lawyer played videos in court of Moss hitting his head against the bed of his cell and pulling his front teeth out while in custody. Officers came inside the bloodied room and took him away.
A clip was also played of Moss attacking a health-care worker. He choked her as a guard repeatedly punched him before he let go. He testified he also tried to hang himself while being held in The Edmonton Remand Centre.
The trial has already heard from Moss's estranged wife and his sister about how his mental health took an extreme and bizarre turn days before Bella's throat was slashed with scissors.
Moss was a new friend of the girl's mother, Melissa Desrosiers, and was staying at her home so she could take him to the hospital to get help for suicidal thoughts he had expressed that day.
Court has been told that Desrosiers had picked up Bella and her younger sister from their aunt's home and arrived with Moss at her house.
While he took a shower, Desrosiers took her daughters to their bedroom for the night. Their aunt was to babysit while Desrosiers took Moss to the hospital.
Court was told that Desrosiers was about to kiss Bella good night when Moss, wearing only shorts, appeared in the doorway. He was holding a pair of scissors he had retrieved from a kitchen drawer.
A statement of facts says Moss pushed Desrosiers aside and began slashing Bella in her neck with the 20-centimetre blade. Desrosiers fought him as she told her other daughter to run to the bathroom and lock herself inside.
Moss dragged Bella to the main floor of the home and continued cutting her neck. The girl was found by police almost decapitated, the statement says.
Moss had told his wife, Tracy Couture-Strarosta, earlier that day that he wanted to hurt her, kill himself, and that he had sexually assaulted a young cousin.
Couture-Strarosta testified that she called Edmonton police and asked them to take him somewhere. A crisis response team evaluated him and scheduled another meeting at 4:30 p.m. that day, but he never went.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship
Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press