OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) – The white man suspected of burning by three African American churches in Louisiana will remain in prison, denying the bond Monday by a judge, when state prosecutors added new allegations stating that the burns had a hate crime.
21-year-old Holden Matthews, son of a sheriff's deputy, entered his innocent opinion via video conference from St. Landry Parish Prison. The judge set a trial date in September.
In denial of bail, State President James Doherty puts side-by-side with law enforcement officials who said that Matthews would try to escape from the area or burn more fires.
"We felt he was an immediate risk to public safety," said Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning. "In my mind I felt another fire was imminent."
At the story, Browning reported for a number of evidence, including some new details of the investigation, that he said Matthews had been tied to the crime, including images of Matthew's cell phone where Browning said he "claimed responsibility" to burn them three black churches for 1
Matthews was arrested on Wednesday on three allegations of fire brigade by a religious building. Prosecutors filed documents on Monday and added three more allegations, accusing Matthews of violating Louisiana's hate crime law, confirming they believe the fires were racially motivated. A link authority had previously ceased to do.
Browning said federal officials are also considering submitting additional federal hate crimes and urgent charges against Matthews.
Matthews, shackled and wearing an orange jail suit, never talked to the court during the hearing and let his court-appointed lawyer enter the innocent ground for him. His parents watched the son's appearance on the video conference from the courtroom, his father repeatedly twisted his hands and left in a while the room in tears.
The fires occurred in and around Opelousas, about 60 miles west of the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge.
Matthew's arrest came just over two weeks after the first fan at St. Mary Baptist Church on March 26 in Port Barre, a city just outside Opelousas. The day later, the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas were broken. Each one was more than 100 years old.
The churches were empty at the time, and no one was injured.
The fires put the community on the edge. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the fires were a reminder "of a very dark past of threats and fears".