Church fires in Louisiana: Man set on fire sentenced to 25 years

Church fires in Louisiana: Man set on fire sentenced to 25 years

Holden Matthews, 23, in February he pleaded guilty to deliberately kill the three African American Baptist churches for a period of 10 days in March and April 2019, “because of the religious nature of these buildings, in an attempt to promote his profile as a ‘Black Metal’ musician,” the department said at the time.
Matthews is copying a Black Metal musician in Norway in the 1990s who fire in churches, said the department.

Matthews must pay $ 590,246 to St. Mary Baptist, $ 970,213.30 at Greater Union and $ 1.1 million at Mt. Pleasant, the DOJ said in a statement on Monday. It will have three years of supervised release.

CNN contacted a proxy for Matthews.

The fires destroyed all three churches in Landry Parish.

“These churches trace their origins to the post-Civil War reconstruction period and, for generations, have been a place for mostly African-American Christians to gather, pray, worship and celebrate their faith,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Department said. “The churches survived for almost 150 years, but they did not survive the distorted act of hatred of this accused.”

Matthew admitted that after setting fire to the latter, he took photos and videos with his mobile phone and posted them on Facebook “in an effort to promote himself in the Black Metal community,” according to the statement.

Concern in the community grew as the first church of St. Mary the Baptist in Port Barre burned down, followed by the destruction of the Great Baptist Church Association on April 2 and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, both in Opelusa.

Matthews was arrested on April 11, 2019.

“The members of St. Mary’s Baptist Church, the Great Union Baptist Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church are the ones who have suffered the most from these horrific crimes and lost not only physical buildings but emotional objects that cannot be replaced.” U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook of the Louisiana District said.

Matthews pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Church Arson Prevention Act – one count for each church – and pleading guilty to using fire to commit a federal crime, the DOJ said.

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