Louisiana man sentenced to 25 years for string of church fires
LAFAYETTE — A man charged for intentionally setting fire to multiple African American churches in Opelousas last spring was sentenced to more than two decades in prison.
KATC reports a federal judge sentenced Holden Matthews to 25 years in prison for the fires he set at three different churches last year. Matthews pleaded guilty to the fires in both state and federal court.
According to the St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court, Matthews' state sentencing was continued from Friday, and a new court date has not yet been set for that hearing.
Matthews initially pleaded not guilty to the arson-related charges against, but changed his plea in February and admitted to intentionally setting fire to three Baptist churches with predominantly African-American congregations.
The three churches were burned in a span of ten days, beginning in late March 2019, in an area roughly 140 miles west of New Orleans in St. Landry Parish.
Matthews admitted to to setting the fires because of the religious character of the buildings, in an effort to raise his profile as a 'Black Metal' musician by copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990's.
Matthews also admitted that, after setting the third fire, he posted photos and videos on Facebook that showed the first two churches burning.
The 22-year-old, who is the son of a parish sheriff's deputy, may also be required to pay restitution to the victims.