Attorney: Prayer group killing confession made up

Associated Press Modified: November 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm •  Published: November 28, 2012
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who told police he killed the wife of his prayer group leader at her husband's request made up the story and had nothing to do with the woman's suicide, his defense attorney said Wednesday.

Micah Moore, 23, has been charged with murder in the Oct. 30 death of Bethany Deaton, 27. In his confession, detailed in a probable cause statement, Moore told police that he and other members of the prayer group had sexually assaulted Deaton and were afraid she would tell someone. Moore said that's when Deaton's husband, Tyler, ordered him to kill her, the statement said.

Moore's lawyer, Melanie Morgan, recanted confession on Wednesday, saying it was "bizarre, nonsensical and most importantly, untrue."

"These were the statements of a distraught and confused young man under extreme psychological pressures as a result of his friend Bethany's untimely suicide and the sudden removal of his spiritual leader, Tyler Deaton, from their extremely close-knit religious community," Morgan said in a statement she read outside court after Moore's preliminary hearing was delayed.

Police have said Bethany Deaton's death initially appeared to be a suicide. Officers found a note and empty bottle of over-the-counter pain medication along with her body in a minivan parked by a lake. A plastic trash bag over her head was tied below her chin with the attached pull straps, but not tightly, police said.

It wasn't until Moore confessed nearly two weeks later they announced a homicide investigation.

Tyler Deaton has not been charged in his wife's death. Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has said he is under investigation but declined to elaborate. Deaton does not have a listed phone number and did not respond to requests for comment The Associated Press made through Facebook and phone and email messages to his father.

Moore appeared in court in an ill-fitting orange jail jumpsuit and shackled to two other prisoners who were among more than two dozen brought in to make court appearances. His preliminary hearing was delayed after the prosecutor's office asked for more time to take the case before a grand jury. Morgan said later that she hoped investigators would put as much focus on disproving Moore's confession as they would in substantiating it.

She declined to take questions after reading the statement, which did not specifically address Moore's allegations that Bethany Deaton had been sexually assaulted or that Tyler Deaton had ordered his wife's death. Moore's father and other relatives were in court but declined to speak with reporters.

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