Guilty plea to federal charges in black church burnings
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) – The suspect in fires set last spring at three African American churches in Louisiana has pleaded guilty to federal and state charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lafayette says that Holden Matthews pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of intentionally damaging religious property, a hate crime and to using fire to commit a felony. He later pleaded guilty to related state charges.
Matthews is white and the destruction of black churches in St. Landry Parish evoked memories of civil rights-era terrorism. However, the federal indictment said the motive involved the properties’ religious character.