Kansas gets Deaton case first, as investigators still gather evidence
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 6:00 PM
Alex Bridges Deaton will face charges in Kansas of attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault and felony auto theft, among other things before his murder charge here is presented to a Neshoba County grand jury.
Deaton is the Neshoba County native charged with the Feb. 23 murder of 69-year-old Brenda Pinter inside Dixon Baptist Church.
Because he is still in Kansas, his case will not be presented to a Neshoba County grand jury when it convenes Tuesday, the assistant District Attorney said on Monday.
Deaton, 28, is charged with murdering Pinter who was about to begin her weekly cleaning duties at the church when authorities believe she was shot to death in the church office.
Assistant District Attorney Steven Kilgore said Deaton would first face charges in Kansas “because they caught him.”
Deaton faces charges of attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, felony theft of a Cadillac CTS and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in Kansas.
The District Attorney’s office is still working on the evidence in connection with the Pinter murder, he said.
“We’re still gathering evidence and it’s complicated because Deaton is still in Kansas,” Kilgore said. “They found a bullet from the church in one of the walls and we can’t test that against his guns yet because they are still in Kansas. It is slowing us down but we can’t do anything with him until Kansas is through anyway.
“We wish we could present it to a grand jury next week but we just aren’t ready. We want everything lined up just right. We will just have to wait our turn,” Kilgore said.
Deaton is also wanted on a murder charge in the Feb. 24 death of his girlfriend at an apartment complex near Castlewoods in Rankin County and on an aggravated assault charge in connection with a shooting of a woman while she was jogging along Castlewoods Boulevard around 5 a.m. that same day.
Kilgore said it hasn’t been decided if Rankin or Neshoba would get Deaton first after Kansas.
“We have not hashed that out yet,” he said. “My guess is Rankin County because it happened there first. I image we will get him next.”
Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell said he spoke with officials at the state crime lab in Kansas last week.
“We will be comparing Deaton’s guns and the projectiles,” he said. “We will probably be making another trip up there in the near future.”
Investigators believe Deaton arrived at the church on the day of the murder while Mrs. Pinter was having a cell phone conversation with her sister-in law about 3:50 p.m.
Her phone was found inside her car along with her purse.
Waddell said a white SUV pulled up less than 10 minutes after Pinter arrived at the church.
Investigators do not believe Mrs. Pinter had gone inside the church because the cell service inside is not good.
“I think she got out of the car and left the cellphone in the car and that’s when somebody came up and she thought that may be lost or whatever,” Waddell said earlier.
Pinter cleaned the church each Thursday.
Investigators obtained a “text message” where Deaton “made reference to killing a person in a church,” Waddell said.
A white SUV was captured on video at the church around the same time Mrs. Pinter was shot to death, leading authorities to name Deaton as a “person of interest” early in the investigation.
Waddell said investigators have not found any personal link between Pinter and Deaton.
When Mrs. Pinter didn’t come home from cleaning the church, her husband tried to contact her by phone.
When he didn’t get an answer, he went to the check on her and found her body inside the church office.
An autopsy showed the cause of death was a gunshot wound, Waddell said.
Deaton was apprehended in Kansas on Wednesday March 1.
He faces carjacking charges in New Mexico as well.