Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy suspected in the burnings of three African American churches in Louisiana. He is now facing hate crime charges in the arson cases.
On Monday, he entered his not guilty plea via video conference from the St. Landry Parish jail. The judge has set a September trial date.
Matthews was arrested Wednesday on three charges of arson of a religious building. He had no previous criminal record. Prosecutors filed documents adding three more charges and Federal officials are considering filing additional federal hate crime and arson charges against Matthews.
State District Judge James Doherty sided with law enforcement officials and denied bail worrying that Matthews would try to flee the area or set more fires. The fires, all started with gasoline, took place in and around Opelousas, about 60 miles west of Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge.