Criminal Defense Attorney explains federal charges against Holden Matthews

Local
ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) The U.S. Justice Department has filed federal hate crime charges against Holden Matthews, the man accused of burning down 3 churches in St. Landry Parish.
 
A Federal Grand Jury indicted 21-year-old Matthews on 6 federal charges:
  3 counts of intentional damage to religious property  (which are hate crime charges)
  3 counts of using fire to commit a felony.
If convicted on all those federal charges, Matthews could face an estimated 50 years behind bars.
 
Matthews already faces state charges in the church burnings, which include hate crimes as well.
He’s pleaded not guilty in that case.
 
These are very significant crimes, it looks like there’re 2 crimes per church, said Kevin Stockstill.
 
Local criminal defense attorney Kevin Stockstill sat down with me to discuss the federal charges against Matthews.
 
Intentional damage to religious property carries up to 20 years. And then using a fire to commit a felony, according to the statute is 10 years. And Congress is ordering the courts to make that case consecutive, said Stockstill.
 
He says it appears federal prosecutors are charging Matthews with 2 federal counts for each church that was burned down.
With a possible sentence of 30 years for each church burned down.
 
When a case is indicted, the government has put it’s case together. It’s ready to go. The Defense is just getting started, said Stockstill.
 
Stockstill examines what the Defense (attorneys) will do now…
 
They’ll listen to their client (Matthews) tell his story. Try and build the defense, get their own experts, and build the defense. And try to show that the government cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, said Stockstill.
 
It’s been noted that Matthews showed interest in a Norwegian film that involved church burnings, along with black metal music, which has been linked in the past to fires at Christian churches.
 
Stockstill says the Defense would have to prove that Matthews suffers from significant mental illness, to say he was inspired by those things.
 
Matthews could face over 100 years in prison if convicted on all Federal and State charges.
U.S. Attorney David Joseph says because of the right to a speedy trial, the Federal case could be heard before the end of this year.

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