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Church arsonist gets 25 years on state charges

Holden Matthews.jpg
Posted at 11:16 AM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-09 13:05:33-05

Holden Matthews, the arsonist who admitted to burning down three historically Black churches in St. Landry Parish, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on state charges.

Matthews already has been sentenced to 25 years on federal charges for the crimes, and the two sentences will be served at the same time, judges ordered. Matthews head pleaded guilty to state hate crimes charges, simple arson of a religious building and aggravated arson of a religious building.

Matthews, the 23-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish Sheriff's deputy, also pleaded guilty in federal court to multiple charges in connection with the spring 2019 burnings of St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church.

He was arrested in mid-April 2019, after investigators found surveillance video of him in a local Walmart, purchasing gas cans, shop towels and lighters before the third fire. To read about the old-fashioned police work that the investigative team used to identify and apprehend Matthews, click here.

In his federal sentencing, Matthews was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $590,246 to St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church, $970,213.30 to Greater Union Baptist Church, and $1,100,000 to Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church.

The church fires captured the attention of many on the national level, leading to fund-raising campaigns that raised nearly $2 million in a matter of days. The funds were divided among the churches and presented to their pastors in June 2019.

To read about his federal sentencing, click here.