A 23-year-old Louisiana man was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison for setting fire to three black churches in an attempt to boost his profile as a “black metal” musician, federal prosecutors say.
Holden James Mathews, 23, who burned churches over a 10-day period ending April 4, 2019, was also ordered to pay nearly $ 7 2.7 million to churches. He pleaded guilty in federal court in February to three counts of violating Church Arsen Prevention Act and a number of people who used fire to commit a crime.
Prosecutors did not cite race as a factor in the allegations, but said church weapons sparked a long history of racist crimes committed across Jim Crowe South.
“These churches have traced their origins to the post-Civil War Reconstruction period,” said Eric S., assistant attorney general for the Department of Civil Rights in the judiciary. Trebond said in a statement on Monday. “Churches have survived for nearly 150 years, but have not escaped the abomination of this defendant.”
La., During his sentencing in the United States District Court in Lafayette, Mr. Matthews, addressing the associates of the churches he burned, apologized. Lafayette’s Agadiana lawyer.
“There are not enough words in English to say how sorry I am,” the newspaper quoted Mr. Matthews said. “I’ll do it if I can go back and change it.”
Mr. Matthews’ burned churches were St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church in Port Bar, and both the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opalosa.
During the sentencing, Judge Robert R. Summerhaus, mr. To Matthews, about two weeks after his arrest in April 2019, about two weeks after the third church fire, he was given a loan of 18 months in custody. Attorney’s report.
Mr. Matthews pleaded guilty to six state charges, including aggravated arson of a religious building and three heinous crime counts. His sentence is pending.
Mr. Prosecutors say Matthews admitted he targeted the churches because of their religious nature.
Mr. Matthews said he was copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990s in an attempt to elevate them among the black metal community, whose serious practitioners have been involved in church burning, vandalism and murder. Black metal is a subtype of heavy metal, Named for its unique composition Scream, nonsench bomb blast-drums and cool, terrifying guitar.
Mr. Prosecutors said Matthews posted pictures and videos of the burning church on Facebook and discussed it with a friend online. In a message to a friend, the prosecutors presented evidence in court that Mr. Matthews mentioned a possible name for his record label: “Soul Rating Records, ‘Burn Music,’” he wrote.
Mr. Matthews’ lawyer, Dustin Charles Talbot, did not immediately send a phone call or comment on Monday night. In February, Mr. Talbot said Mr. Matthews had the social and mental development of a teenager, and his actions were not motivated by the racial makeup of the congregations.
“Holden now fully understands the seriousness and gravity of his actions, and deeply regrets the things he has done and the pain he has caused to the churches of these churches.” Talbot said.
After investigators determined that his debit card had been used to buy a gas can found at the scene of the fire, Mr. Matthews was arrested.
In April, The Advocate reported All three churches were in various stages of reconstruction. Land was cleared in Mount Pleasant, and the church was waiting for a study to begin the foundation work.
Donations to help rebuild churches Last year, the organizers’ target exceeded 8 1.8 million.
Concepts de Leon and Mariel Patila contributed to the reporting.