Suspect pleads guilty to federal charges in black church burnings

Photo: St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The suspect in a series of fires set last spring at African American churches in Louisiana has pleaded guilty to four federal charges.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Lafayette says that Holden Matthews pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of intentionally damaging religious property, a hate crime, and to using fire to commit a felony.

Matthews is white and the destruction of three historic black churches in St. Landry Parish evoked memories of civil rights-era terrorism.

However, the indictment did not state a racial motive. It said the fires were set because of the properties' religious character.

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