'Cult' leader sentenced in Durham murders

Peter Moses
July 5, 2013 9:40:05 AM PDT
The leader of a so-called Durham cult was given two life sentences Friday in the killings of a woman and a 4-year-old boy he believed to be gay.

Peter Moses Jr. apologized in court to the mother of one of his victims.

"I'm sorry ma'am for your daughter," he said.

Prosecutors said Moses was responsible for the deaths of 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan and 28-year-old Antoinetta McKoy. Their remains were found buried plastic bags by a plumber working in the backyard of a home in the 2600 block of Ashe Street in 2011.

Seven people were originally charged in the shooting. They were members of a polygamist religious group led by 28-year-old Moses known as the "Black Hebrew Israelites."

Prosecutors say Moses shot Higganbothan in the garage of a home on Pear Tree Lane in front of his mother, Vania Sisk, because he believed the child was an abomination. They said McKoy was killed because she tried to escape from the group and it feared she would tell police about the boy's murder.

Moses' sister, Sheila Moses and his mother, Sheilda Harris, were part of the seven originally arrested, but were cleared of all charges in 2012.

Sisk and the other conspirators are all serving jail time after agreeing to plea deals.

In court Friday, Moses' attorney Lisa Miles told Judge Orlando Hudson her client was not a cult leader, but was mentally ill - saying his illness "made him do something monstrous."

Unmoved, Hudson ordered Moses to serve his life sentences without the possibility of parole.

McKoy's mother Yvonne was in court Friday to hear the sentences handed down.

"That's the only thing that gives me closure is to know that she knew God herself cause this is something that I never dreamt I would deal with, never," she told the court.

After the sentencing, she told ABC11 her daughter believed Moses was going to marry her, and his apology only goes so far.

"I could really choke him. But you know, that was just a little bit of anger. But I looked at him with more hurt than anything because I couldn't believe - this is like a nightmare - that he would be so deceitful," she said. "I felt a little cold and a little bitter. But the compassion inside of me said 'Yvonne, you're a Christian.'"

She said she now believes Moses is mentally ill after his defense attorney said he had previously been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

Miles said her client is deeply remorseful.

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