Families can't yet get remains of victims in Durham sect case
Posted October 12, 2011 12:28 p.m. EDT
Updated October 18, 2011 2:39 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — A Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that the remains of a Durham boy and a woman believed to have been killed by members of a religious group cannot be released to relatives until defense attorneys can have the remains tested.
The bodies of Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28, were found in June buried behind a house on Ashe Street in Durham. Jadon had been missing since last October, and McKoy was last seen in December.
Autopsies determined that both had been shot in the head.
Peter Lucas Moses, 27, faces first-degree murder charges in their deaths, and prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty against him.
Defense attorneys have until Oct. 21 to review the autopsy and investigative reports and determine if they need to test the remains further, Judge Orlando Hudson ruled.
Prosecutors asked Hudson to rule on the release of the remains after he dismissed a murder charge in a separate case because remains had been cremated.
Hudson ruled in August that authorities had withheld evidence by allowing the family of Lakiea Boxley to cremate her remains last year. Michael Charles Dorman had been charged with murder after Boxley's remains were found in his backpack, and the judge said Dorman's attorneys should have had a chance to test the remains.
The judge said Moses' case is different from Dorman's, which he called extraordinary.
Several attorneys for Moses and his co-defendants said they don't intend to keep the families of Jadon and McKoy waiting.
Neither of the families wanted to comment after Wednesday's court hearing.
Authorities have said that Moses led a religious group of women and children who called him “Lord” and feared him. The group lived in a home at 2109 Pear Tree Lane in Durham, and searches of the home early this year turned up evidence of blood, shell casings, projectiles and signs of cleaning.
An informant told police that Moses killed Jadon last fall because he thought the child was gay and ordered that McKoy be killed after he learned she couldn't have children and wanted to leave the group.
Jadon's mother, Vania Rae Sisk, 25, and two other women who lived with Moses, Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 40, and Larhonda Renee Smith, 27, have been charged with murder in McKoy's death and as accessories in the boy's death.
Moses' mother, Sheilda Harris, and siblings P. Leonard Moses and Sheila Moses are charged as accessories in McKoy's death.