Sentencing moved back for Louisiana Black church arsonist

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FILE – This file booking image provided by the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal shows Holden Matthews, who was arrested Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in southern Louisiana. Matthews is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in federal court, where he faces hate crime charges. (Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal via AP, File)

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Sentencing has been pushed back for the man who pleaded guilty to setting fires in 2019 at three historic Black churches in south Louisiana.

Holden Matthews had been set for sentencing July 30 in federal court in Lafayette. But court records show the sentencing has been rescheduled for Oct. 16.

Courthouse access restrictions related to the new coronavirus are slated to expire in September.

Matthews pleaded guilty in February to state and federal charges.

Matthews, who was 21 at the time of his arrest last year, is white and the destruction of the Black churches in St. Landry Parish evoked memories of civil rights-era terrorism.

But race is not mentioned as a factor in the charges which say the churches were burned because of their “religious character.”

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