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Murder charge dropped in prayer group death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri prosecutor has dropped charges against Micah Moore, a former suburban Kansas City man who confessed to killing the wife of his prayer group leader and later recanted.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Friday that her office could not ethically pursue a murder charge against 25-year-old Micah Moore, formerly of Grandview, in the October 2012 death of Bethany Deaton because his confession was unreliable.

Deaton's body was found inside her locked minivan at Longview Lake 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 the cause of death as suicide but changed it to inconclusive after Moore told police that he had killed her.

Following news of the charges being dropped Friday, Melanie Morgan, Moore's defense attorney, issued a statement saying, "Not only was Micah's innocence determined through an exhaustive investigation, the investigation revealed Ms. Deaton's tragic suicide was the result of untreated severe depression."

"Micah deeply regrets that his statements, even though retracted quickly and contradicted by the physical evidence, compounded the pain suffered by Ms. Deaton's family," the statement continued.

Earlier this week, Moore's attorneys filed a motion arguing for his confession to be excluded from his trial - which was scheduled to begin next month. They argued for the exclusion on the grounds that he had just undergone an exorcism when he gave his account to police and therefore wasn't in his right mind.

According to his attorneys, Moore recanted his confession after getting some sleep.

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, Bethany's husband, controlled everything from how members spent their free time to when they were required to worship, Moore's attorneys said.

After turning himself in to police on Nov. 9, 2012, 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 male group members.

Moore's attorney Melanie Morgan said Friday that "Micah suffered from what was diagnosed as a reactive psychotic episode triggered by the suicide of his friend, the realization that he was part of a cult and its sudden dismantling by untrained individuals in a religious fervor. Many participants described it as an exorcism. In the course of that episode, Micah made false statements to law enforcement regarding Bethany Deaton's death."

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