- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A suburban Kansas City man who confessed to killing the wife of his prayer group leader had just undergone an exorcism to expel demons when he gave his account to police, his attorneys said in a motion to exclude those statements from his trial next month.

Micah Moore, 25, formerly of Grandview, wasn’t in his right mind in November 2012 when he confessed to killing Bethany Deaton, his attorneys said, and he recanted it after getting some sleep.

Deaton’s body was found inside her locked minivan at Longview Lake on Oct. 30, 2012, with a loosely tied bag over her head and a suicide note and empty 100-count bottle of acetaminophen nearby. On the basis of that evidence, the Jackson County coroner initially listed the cause of death as suicide.

Other than Moore’s confession, there is no evidence Deaton’s death was the result of a crime, Moore’s attorneys wrote. Her embalmed body was returned to Kansas City from Texas for an autopsy and the cause of death was changed to “undetermined.”

Moore and Deaton were part of a roughly 20-member prayer group who came to the Kansas City area from Texas to be part of International House of Prayer University, an evangelical Christian organization focused on missions and preparation for the end of time.

Members lived in a communal-type arrangement in Grandview, where Tyler Deaton controlled everything from how members spent their free time to when they were required to worship, Moore’s attorneys said.

After Bethany Deaton’s death, IHOP conducted a meeting to help members of the prayer group process their grief, “as they said that Tyler had not allowed them to grieve her death,” IHOP spokesman Nick Syrett said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

“That this was a planned ‘exorcism’ meeting is simply not true,” he said.

Moore told investigators Tyler Deaton had ordered him to kill Bethany to keep her from revealing the group’s secrets, including that Tyler Deaton was having sexual relations with other male members.

Moore’s attorneys, however, describe Bethany Deaton as a deeply disturbed woman whose husband of only two months rejected her physical advances and had her shunned by the rest of the group, driving her to suicide.

“At a time when she had been physically rejected in the most humiliating way a woman can be rejected, she was also being socially rejected,” the motion asserts.

During an evening prayer session on Nov. 8, 2012, an IHOP-affiliated group called Prisoners of Hope put “their hands on the cult members, shouting at demons to leave and scream-praying in tongues, soon had many in the group crying and yelling and falling to the floor,” Moore’s attorneys wrote.

Syrett said Moore confessed to two IHOP leaders and asked them to accompany him to a local police station, where he was charged with first-degree murder on Nov. 9, 2012.

“This meeting was to help these young people process recent events and to hear their hearts related to these events,” Syrett said. “It was not in the slightest way for the purpose of ‘exorcising’ demons out of people.”

A message left on Tyler Deaton’s Facebook page and an email to his father seeking comment were not immediately returned.

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