Suspect In Fires At Three Black Churches In Louisiana Is Charged With Hate Crimes & Denied Bail
The suspect is the son of a sheriff's deputy in St. Landry Parish, where the church burnings took place.
The man suspected of burning three black churches in Louisiana is now facing hate crime charges on top of the arson charges he received after being arrested on Thursday.
Holden Matthews, the suspect of the church burnings, has plead not guilty to all the charges. He has also been denied bail. According to the New York Times, the additional hate crime charges were filed against Matthews by Earl Taylor, the district attorney for St. Landry Parish.
Louisiana's hate crime statute carries a maximum five-year sentence. Matthews was already facing three counts of simple arson charges, each carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The fires, which occurred between March 26 and April 4, have been investigated by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), FBI, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, and several other local agencies have also been helping with the investigation.
The St. Mary Baptist Church in the community of Port Barre, and Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, were destroyed from the fires. All three churches were well over a hundred years old.
The 21-year-old Matthews is the son of a St. Landry Parish Deputy, but his father did not turn him in to deputies.
Source: New York Times