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Thu Jun 13, 2019, 06:40 PM

Accused arsonist of St. Landry churches indicted in federal court on hate crimes charges

Holden Matthews, the suspect accused of burning three historically black St. Landry churches in a 10-day span, has been charged with hate crimes and other charges by a federal grand jury.

The indictment, unsealed Wednesday, charges Matthews with three counts of intentional damage to religious property, a hate crime charge under the federal Church Arson Prevention Act, and three counts of using fire to commit a felony. The indictment was filed Thursday.

The three churches – St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas – were destroyed between March 26 and April 4. Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy, was arrested in the fires after physical evidence and video surveillance linked him to the crimes, officials say.

The federal indictment alleged Matthews burned the churches “because of the religious character of these properties.” The indictment did not reference a potential racial bias in the attacks.

Read more: https://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/news/crime_police/article_caf2a266-8d39-11e9-9515-4fb9845f50ce.html

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