Multistate crime suspect pleads to Mississippi woman’s murder

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. — A Mississippi man pleaded guilty Friday to another murder in a series of violent crimes in three states separated by nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers).

Alex Deaton pleaded guilty Friday in Neshoba County Circuit Court to the February 2017 murder of Brenda Pinter, a 69-year-old woman who was cleaning a rural Baptist church. Circuit Judge Christopher Collins sentenced him to life without parole, the second such sentence Deaton has received in Mississippi, in addition to a prison sentence of nearly 13 years in Kansas.

It’s still unclear why Deaton shot Pinter multiple times. District Attorney Steven Kilgore tells WTOK-TV that prosecutors were never able to discern a motive.

“We were able to prove he was the one that did it, but as to why he thought he needed to kill this 69-year-old lady, we don’t know,” Kilgore said.

Deaton did tell the judge he was on drugs at the time of the shooting. He has earlier testified he has bipolar disorder.

Pinter’s death came the day after Deaton strangled his girlfriend in her suburban Jackson apartment, stole her SUV and shot and wounded a jogger near Robinson’s home. Deaton admitted to those crimes in August when he pleaded guilty in Rankin County. Rankin County Circuit Judge William Chapman also sentenced him to life in prison. Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey has said he believes Deaton’s series of crimes were sparked when Robinson tried to break up with him.

The 30-year-old Deaton also faces a multicount indictment in New Mexico’s Sandoval County, accusing him of trying to kidnap two teenage hikers. Authorities say he shot and wounded one of them and stole a car.

Deaton already pleaded guilty in July 2017 to the final act in his criminal drama — robbing, stealing a car from and shooting a convenience store clerk in Pratt, Kansas. Deaton was sentenced in October to nearly 13 years in prison in Kansas for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery there.

“We’re all working toward the same goal and trying to make sure this man never sees the light of day again,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore said Deaton has family members in Neshoba County, but said they bore no responsibility for Pinter’s killing or Deaton’s other acts. He said a bullet pried from the wall of Dixon Baptist Church matched a gun recovered with Dixon when he was arrested in a snowy Kansas field after overturning his vehicle during a police chase. Kilgore said surveillance video also links Deaton to Pinter’s death.

Pinter’s family didn’t make a statement in court.