Attorneys for Micah Moore said his fragile mental state led him to falsely claim he had killed his prayer-group friend, Bethany Ann Deaton, The Kansas City Star reported. Instead, they said, authorities' initial impression that Deaton had committed suicide was correct, the newspaper said.
"We are aware of no evidence that a crime has occurred," defense attorney Melanie Morgan said in a statement after a brief court hearing during which prosecutors were granted a continuance. "The facts suggest Bethany Deaton's death was an unfortunate suicide and Micah Moore had nothing to do with that suicide.
"Driven to the police station by representatives of his church community, Micah told a fictional account that was bizarre, nonsensical and most importantly, untrue. They were the figments 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."
Jackson County prosecutors, however, were not ready to back off the charges against Moore, with spokesman Michael Mansur saying Wednesday authorities would seek a grand jury indictment against him.
Court documents show the 23-year-old suspect went to Grandview police and admitted he had killed Deaton, 27, whose body was found Oct. 30 in a van at Longview Lake.
Moore told police he had killed her at the direction of her new husband, Tyler Deaton, the leader of their prayer group.
Moore lived with the Deatons in a residence also shared by other men in the prayer group. Moore told police several members had sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton and they feared she would tell her therapist. Moore claims Tyler Deaton told him to kill her, a criminal complaint states.
The Deatons and most other members of the prayer group attended the International House of Prayer, an "end times"-focused evangelical mission base, the Star said.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has said Tyler Deaton and other group members were under investigation.