KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An attorney for a Kansas City man charged with killing the wife of his prayer group leader said Wednesday that he made up his confession after other group members dropped him off at a police station.
Attorney Melanie Morgan said 23-year-old Micah Moore was distraught over the death of 27-year-old Bethany Deaton when he confessed to killing her and made a series of stunning accusations detailed by police in a criminal complaint.
Mr. Moore, who lived with Mrs. Deaton and her husband, Tyler, in a communal home shared by male members of their prayer group, told police that several members had sexually assaulted Mrs. Deaton and were worried she would tell someone. Mr. Moore said that’s when Mr. Deaton ordered him to kill her, according to the complaint.
Mr. Moore, who has been charged with murder, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but that was delayed when the prosecutor’s office asked for more time to take the case before a grand jury.
Afterward, Ms. Morgan read a statement recanting Mr. Moore’s confession, which she described as “bizarre and nonsensical.”
She did not address the confession’s claim that Mrs. Deaton had been sexually assaulted or that Mr. Deaton had ordered his wife to be killed. Ms. Morgan also declined to take any questions.
Mr. Deaton has not been charged in his wife’s death. Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has said Mr. Deaton is under investigation but declined to elaborate. Attempts to reach Mr. Deaton were unsuccessful.
Police have said Mrs. Deaton’s death initially appeared to be a suicide. Officers found a note and an empty bottle of over-the-counter pain medication along with her body in a minivan parked by a lake Oct. 30.
It wasn’t until Mr. Moore confessed Nov. 9 that they announced a homicide investigation.
The Deatons moved to Kansas City in 2009 from Texas to attend a six-month internship at the non-accredited International House of Prayer University. The two had met as freshmen at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in 2005, and two years later Tyler Deaton started a prayer group, a former longtime member of the group told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of feared retaliation.
The Deatons’ prayer group had at least two houses, with women living in one and men in another. Mrs. Deaton, 27, moved into the men’s house with Mr. Deaton after they married in August.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Moore told police that men in the house began drugging Mrs. Deaton and sexually assaulting her soon after she moved in. He said she was seeing a therapist and group members became concerned she would tell the therapist about the assaults.
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