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Cult leader pleads guilty to murder, avoids death penalty

The leader of a religious group accused of killing a woman and a 4-year-old boy pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in a Durham courtroom Monday, NBCRaleigh.com reported.

With his guilty plea, Peter Moses Jr., 28, will avoid the death penalty. The victims, Antoninetta McKoy, 28, and 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan, lived with Moses and his religious group, the Black Hebrews, NBCRaleigh.com reported. The victims were not related.

The group believes they are directly descended from the ancient tribes of Israel, according to NBCRaleigh.com

Moses said he believed the Higganbothan was gay like his father, and that it was unacceptable to his religious beliefs, the station reported. The victims' bodies were discovered by a plumber in June 2011 in the back yard of Moses' mother's home after being reported missing in February.

Prosecutors said Moses shot Higganbothan in a garage in front of his mother. Officials believe McKoy was killed because she tried to escape the religious group and feared she would tell police about the murder, ABCRaleigh.com reported.

Read the original report from NBCRaleigh.com

When McKoy tried to escape, Moses instructed the other women in the group to shoot her after they beat her for hours, ABCRaleigh.com reported.

In addition to Moses, six others were indicted in the killings. They have not yet entered pleas.

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