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Holden Matthews, the white domestic terrorist responsible for setting three historically Black churches on fire in Louisiana, has been sentenced to serve only 25 years in prison.

In between March 26 to April 4, 2019, 22-year-old Holden James Matthews set three historically Black Lousiana churches on fire, including St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, Louisiana. On Monday, he was sentenced to just 25 years in prison following a two-day hearing. Some of the victims gave statements, some of whom said they “believe [he] should receive the death penalty.” 

In February, Holden pleaded guilty to three counts of using fire to commit a felony and three counts of intentional damage to religious property, which are considered hate crimes under the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, writes Bill Hutchinson of ABC News reports. Matthews claims he committed the crimes because of the “religious character of these buildings” and that he was trying to boost his image as a “Black Metal” musician.

Police tracked down and arrested Holden after they traced three gas cans they found at one of the burned churches back to a local Walmart. The receipts from the cans, as well as Walmart video surveillance footage, helped police officers to identify Holden. The domestic terrorist’s father is a sheriff’s deputy in St. Landry Parish. His father “helped facilitate” his son’s arrest and had “no knowledge” of the arson attacks. 

Like many other recent white domestic terrorists that we’ve seen commit crimes against communities of color, Holden’s attorneys called for Holden to be evaluated by a psychologist. Mary Lou Kelley, a professor at Louisiana State University, testified in court, saying that in her opinion, Matthews suffered from untreated depression, social anxiety, arrested social development, and socially avoidant behavior that comes from social rejection. Kelley went on to say that Matthews has a history of alcohol abuse and claims he was drunk when he lit the churches on fire.

ABC News reports that Judge Robert Summerhays gave Matthews 18 months credit for time served since his arrest and ordered the terrorist to take up substance abuse counseling while in prison. Matthews claims he is sorry for the arson and says he has found the Lord. With the help of churches and religious groups in Louisiana and around the country, more than $2 million was raised to rebuild the three churches.

(Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal)




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‘Impossible to trace.’ Tech savvy dad may be holding daughter captive in WA, cops say

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A father accused of kidnapping his teenage daughter 17 months ago could be holding her captive in Washington, but his technology skills are making it hard for authorities to find him, officials say.

Authorities say John Oliver Westbrook kidnapped his daughter, Daphne Westbrook, 17, in October 2019 from Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to a news release posted on Facebook by the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee.

Investigators say Westbrook is holding Daphne against her will and they’re struggling to locate them because he is “an IT expert specializing in security, block chain technology and bitcoin.”

Brooke WolfordFri, March 5, 2021, 5:41 AM