Holden Matthews, the 21 year old son of a Sheriff’s deputy, has been arrested and charged for the arson at three historically black churches. He entered a not guilty plea and the judge set his trial date for September.
Matthews, who had no previous criminal record, was arrested Wednesday on three charges of arson of a religious building. Prosecutors filed documents Monday adding three more charges, accusing Matthews of violating Louisiana’s hate crime law, confirming that they believe the fires were racially motivated.
federal officials also are considering filing additional federal hate crime and arson charges against Matthews.
In denying bail, state District Judge James Doherty sided with law enforcement officials who said they worried Matthews would try to flee the area or set more fires.
“We felt that he was an immediate risk to public safety,” said Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning. “In my mind, I felt another fire was imminent.”
The fire marshal described cellphone records placing Matthews at the fire locations, and he said images on the phone showed all three churches burning before law enforcement arrived and showed Matthews “claiming responsibility” for the fires.
The fires, all started with gasoline, occurred in and around Opelousas, about 60 miles west of Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.