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Son of deputy accused of burning Opelousas area churches pleads guilty

7 months 1 week 2 days ago Monday, February 10 2020 Feb 10, 2020 February 10, 2020 5:24 AM February 10, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ
Holden Matthews mugshot

LAFAYETTE — Holden Matthews, the suspect in a series of fires set at African American churches in Opelousas last spring, has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Matthews had originally pleaded not guilty, but on Monday morning he changed his plea, admitting 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 (225 kilometers) 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, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a statutory maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

His sentencing date is set for May 22.

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