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White suspect in black church fires charged with hate crimes

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 6 days ago
CORRECTS ARREST DATE TO WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 - This booking image released by the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal shows Holden Matthews, 21, who was arrested Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in southern Louisiana. Matthews faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building on the state charges. Federal investigators also were looking into whether hate motivated the fires. (Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal via AP) © The Associated Press CORRECTS ARREST DATE TO WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 - This booking image released by the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal shows Holden Matthews, 21, who was arrested Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in southern Louisiana. Matthews faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building on the state charges. Federal investigators also were looking into whether hate motivated the fires. (Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal via AP)

OPELOUSAS, La. — Prosecutors have now added hate crime charges against the white suspect in three recent arson fires that destroyed African American churches in Louisiana.

Twenty-one-year-old Holden Matthews pleaded not guilty at a Monday court hearing. He was ordered to be held without bond.

Three black churches were torched in 10 days. Two were in the city of Opelousas. Another was in a nearby town.

Matthews is the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff's deputy. He was arrested Wednesday on three charges of arson of a religious building. The three additional hate crimes charges — one for each blaze — were added Monday.

Authorities at Monday's hearing also outlined a litany of new evidence that prosecutors say ties Matthews to the crimes.

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