KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The man who confessed to Bethany Deaton's murder was in court on Wednesday. Attorney's for Micah Moore questioned his confession in a statement.
The statement from Melanie Morgan, an attorney hired to defend Moore, said there was no probable cause to believe a crime had been committed. Morgan said in the statement that the facts surrounding Bethany Deaton's death point to a suicide and no facts point to murder.
"Driven to the police station by representatives of his church community, Micah told a fictional account that was bizarre, nonsensical and most importantly, untrue," the statement read. "They were statements of a distraught and confused young man under extreme psychological pressures as a result of his friend Bethany's untimely suicide and sudden removal of his spiritual leader, Tyler Deaton, from their extremely close-knit religious community."
The statement went on to assert that the doctrines taught in the religious community affected Moore's mental state and said Moore was innocent.
Moore was joined in court on Wednesday by his father and an aunt who told Moore everything would be OK. Two uncles joined the family in the courtroom. The appearance was supposed to be a preliminary hearing, but the state waived its right to a hearing so no evidence was presented. Prosecutors said they were hoping to gain an indictment that would allow the case to go before a grand jury.
Police initially believed Bethany Deaton's death was a suicide, but Moore walked into a police department and confessed to her murder.
In the criminal complaint filed in support of the charge, police detailed a stunning series of allegations that Moore made as part of his confession.
Moore, 23, lived with Deaton and her husband, Tyler, in a communal home shared by male members their prayer group. He told police that several members had sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton, and they were worried she would tell someone. Moore said that's when Tyler Deaton ordered him to kill Bethany Deaton, according to a criminal complaint.
Tyler Deaton has not been charged in his wife's death. Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Deaton was 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's attorney, Melanie Morgan, declined to comment.
Tyler and Bethany Deaton 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 started a prayer group, a former longtime member of the group told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was afraid of retaliation from Tyler Deaton.
Tyler Deaton was listed at one point as a division coordinator for IHOPU's "friendship groups," but the school said that was a mistake. It issued a statement distancing itself from Tyler Deaton after Moore, a student at IHOPU, was arrested.
"Since Bethany's death it has come to light that over five years ago, both she and Mr. Moore joined an independent, close-knit, religious group in Georgetown, Texas," the school said in a statement. "This religious group of fewer than 20 people was led by Tyler Deaton. They relocated to Kansas City over the last few years and operated under a veil of secrecy."
IHOPU is the educational arm of International House of Prayer of Kansas City, an evangelical Christian group focused on missions and preparation for the end of time.
The Deatons' prayer group had at least two houses, with women living in one and men in another. Bethany Deaton, 27, moved into the men's house with Tyler Deaton after they married in August.
According to the criminal complaint, Moore told police that men in the house began drugging Bethany 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.
Moore and other men who lived in the house told police that several group members also were having sexual relations with Tyler Deaton, unbeknownst to his wife. One man, whose name was blacked out of the criminal complaint, told police that Tyler Deaton said after Bethany Deaton died that he had had a dream he killed his wife by suffocating her.
Moore told detectives Tyler Deaton instructed him to kill Bethany Deaton because he knew Moore had it in him to do it, and that Moore reported back to Tyler Deaton after she was dead. Moore told police that he had placed a bag over Bethany Deaton's head and held it there until her body shook.
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