A North Carolina man pleaded guilty to murdering both a 28-year-old woman and a 4-year-old child he reportedly believed was gay.
As WRAL is reporting, prosecutors had been planning to seek the death penalty for Peter Lucas Moses, who has been charged with the deaths of Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28.
The 27-year-old Moses is also allegedly the leader of radical religious sect, whose members comprised a number of women and children who called him "Lord." Moses reportedly lived together with at least three of those women, who counted themselves as his "wives," and nine children and in a one-bedroom Durham home. Moses is the biological father of all the children, except for Jadon.
The Associated Press identified Moses' sect as the Black Hebrews, whose members believe they have descended directly from the ancient tribes of Israel. The Black Hebrews are also said to believe that a forthcoming "race war" will leave blacks dominant and supreme, according to court documents cited by the News-Observer.
Former District Attorney Tracey Cline told a judge during a hearing last July that Moses shot Jadon because he thought the boy was gay. "In the religious belief of that organization, homosexuality was frowned on," she is quoted by WRAL as saying.
Moses reportedly feared that Jadon might be gay because the boy's father had left his mother Vania Sisk, who was one of Moses' "wives." Furthermore, he is also said to have witnessed Jadon hitting the backside of another young boy.
Both of Moses' alleged victims had been shot in the head, according to autopsy reports. The partially decomposed bodies had been found crudely wrapped in plastic trash bags and lying in shallow graves in the backyard of Moses' mother, Sheilda Harris.
The Durham Herald Sun called Moses' guilty plea a "surprise," as the defendant had only been scheduled to appear in court for a brief status update on his case. The plea means that Moses will instead face two consecutive life sentences without parole rather than the death penalty.
"He pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder and agreed to testify against his co-defendants if he is called upon to testify,” District Attorney Leon Stanback is quoted as saying.
Moses is currently being held in jail without bond. Meanwhile, Harris, Moses' brother, P. Leonard Moses, and his sister, Sheila Moses, are charged as accessories in McKoy's death. Meanwhile, Sisk, and two other women who lived with Peter Moses, Larhonda Renee Smith and Lavada Quinzetta Harris, have been charged with murder in McKoy's death and as accessories in Jadon's death, according to reports.