Murder charge dropped in prayer group death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Two years after the lifeless body of a young suburban Kansas City woman was found inside a locked minivan near a lake, prosecutors on Friday dropped a first-degree murder charge against the man who told police he had killed her.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Friday that many of the claims Micah Moore made in his confession were unreliable and not supported by the investigation.
"My office concluded that we could not ethically continue to pursue the case given the current evidence against Micah Moore," Baker said in a news release.
Bethany Deaton, 27, was found in her vehicle Oct. 20, 2012, with a loosely tied bag over her head and a suicide note and empty 100-count bottle of acetaminophen nearby. The Jackson County coroner initially listed her death as a suicide, but later changed it to "undetermined" after Moore, 25, told Grandview police on Nov. 9, 2012, that he was her killer.
However, Baker said Moore's DNA was not found on the bag used to suffocate Deaton, handwriting analysis of the suicide note concluded Deaton had written it and electronic evidence that Moore had said would prove his statements was never found.
Moore and Deaton were among about 20 members of a prayer group loosely affiliated with International House of Prayer, a Grandview-based evangelical Christian group focused on missions and preparation for the end of time.
IHOP spokesman Nick Syrett described the prayer group, led by Deaton's husband, Tyler Deaton, as "an independent, close-knit, religious group in Georgetown, Texas. They were students at Southwestern University" before relocating to Missouri.
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.
Two weeks after the confession, Moore's attorney, Melanie Morgan, called his statements "bizarre, nonsensical and most importantly, untrue."
Morgan has argued there was no evidence that her death was anything other than suicide.
"Not only was Micah's innocence determined through an exhaustive investigation, the investigation revealed that Ms. Deaton's tragic suicide was the result of untreated severe depression," Morgan said Friday.