A Louisiana man who torched three black churches in the state to promote his persona as a heavy metal musician was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the arsons.
Holden Matthews, 23, will also have to pay the churches $2.6 million in fines as part of his punishment, the Associated Press reported.
Matthews pleaded guilty in February to three counts of violating the Church Arson Prevention Act for torching the three predominantly black churches in the Opelousas area to promote his “Black Metal” image.
“Matthews admitted to setting the fires because of the religious character of these buildings, in an effort to raise his profile as a ‘Black Metal’ musician by copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990s,” U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a statement.
The demented firebug torched the churches over a 10-day span in the spring of 2019. The buildings were empty and no one was injured by the arson.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said the churches had survived for more than 150 years before the firebombings.
“These churches trace their origins to the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and, for generations, were a place for predominantly African American Christians to gather, pray, worship, and celebrate their faith,” he said.
“The churches survived for nearly 150 years but did not survive this defendant’s warped act of hatred,” Dreiband added.
With Post Wires
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