Louisiana Church Fires: A man who lit the fire was sentenced to 25 years in prison

Holden Matthews, 23 years old He pleaded guilty in February To intentionally set fire to the three African American Baptist churches over a 10-day period in March and April 2019, “due to the religious character of these buildings, in an effort to raise his image as a ‘Black Metal’ musician,” the department said at the time.
Matthews was copying black metal music in Norway in the 1990s They set fire to the churchesThe department said.

Matthews should pay $ 590,246 to St Mary’s Baptist Church, $ 970,213.30 to the Greater Union and $ 1.1 million to Mt. Pleasant, the Department of Justice statement said on Monday. He will have three years of supervised release.

CNN contacted Matthews’ attorney.

Fires destroyed all three of the Landry Parish churches.

“These churches have their origins in the reconstruction period following the Civil War, and for generations were a place for African American Christians to congregate, pray, worship and celebrate their faith,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreband of the Civil Rights Division said. “The churches survived for nearly 150 years, but they were not spared the disfigured act of hate by this accused.”

Matthews admitted that after the recent fire started, he took photos and videos with his cell phone and posted them on Facebook “in an attempt to promote himself in the Black Metal community,” according to the statement.

Anxiety in the community It grew when the first St Mary’s Baptist Church in Port Barre burned down, followed by the destruction of the Great Union Baptist Church on April 2 and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, both in Oplusas.

Matthews was arrested on April 11, 2019.

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“Members of St. Mary’s Baptist Church, Union Baptist Grand Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church are the ones who have suffered the most from these heinous crimes and have lost not only the physical buildings, but the emotional elements that cannot be replaced.” US prosecutor Alexander C. Van Hook said from the western region of Louisiana.

The Justice Department said Matthews pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Church Fire Prevention Act – one per church – and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony.

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