Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Teresa Moses Accused of Torturing & Killing 8-year-old

Three doctors who evaluated Teresa Moses, a 26-year-old Richmond woman accused of torturing and killing her 8-year-old son in 2006, found that she was legally insane at the time of his death, her attorney Emily Gunston said Thursday.

Moses has been charged with felony child abuse, torture and murder in connection with her son Raijon Daniels' death.

All three mental health professionals, one psychiatrist and two forensic psychologists, concluded that Moses suffered from paranoid delusions and was incapable of knowing or understanding the nature and consequences of her actions, Deputy District Attorney Gerald Chang said.

Prosecutors will be reviewing the reports and making a decision within the next couple of weeks about whether to accept a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity or take the case to trial, Chang said.

Raijon died Oct. 27, 2006. Police and paramedics were called to Moses' apartment at 725 S. 40th St. early that evening and found Raijon unconscious and lying near a puddle of his own vomit.

Moses allegedly told police that her son was "destructive" and might have poisoned himself by drinking the household cleaner Pine-Sol, a Richmond police detective said.

Along with several open containers of Pine-Sol found throughout the apartment, investigators allegedly uncovered evidence that Moses had kept Raijon locked in his bedroom and had restrained him with a nylon cord tied to his wrists, arms and legs.

They also found surveillance cameras in his bedroom that were hooked up to a monitor in Moses' bedroom and motion sensors designed to alert Moses if Raijon attempted to get off his bed, according to investigators.

A forensic pathologist testified during a preliminary hearing in the case that Raijon had bruises, scrapes, chemical burns and extensive scarring covering his entire body. The child was also starving, and the coroner's office concluded that he died from continuous, long-term abuse diagnosed as "battered child syndrome."

Before his death, Contra Costa Children and Family Services had received five separate reports from people who suspected that Raijon was being abused beginning in November 2005. The most recent report was in January 2006. Raijon's case was closed eight months before he died, according to CFS documents.

Investigators found no evidence that Moses had abused Raijon's half-sister, who is now 5 or 6 years old, but a CFS report alleged that the girl had suffered severe mental and emotional trauma from witnessing her mother's continuous torture and abuse of Raijon, according to a California Court of Appeal decision issued in 2008.

The court heard the case after Moses sought visitation rights with her daughter and unanimously denied her appeal.

If Moses is found not guilty by reason of insanity, she will be committed to a state mental hospital, but could be released within a few years. If she is convicted of the charges, she could face a life sentence with the possibility of parole, Chang said.

Moses is scheduled to return to Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez on June 25 at 8:30 a.m.

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