Hate crime charges added against man accused of burning three black churches in Louisiana

Hate crime charges added against man accused of burning three black churches in Louisiana
This booking image released by the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal shows Holden Matthews, 21, who was arrested Thursday, April 11, 2019, in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in southern Louisiana. Matthews faces three counts of simple arson of a religious building on the state charges. Federal investigators also were looking into whether hate motivated the fires. (Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal via AP)

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - Prosecutors have now added hate crime charges against the white suspect in three recent arson fires that destroyed African American churches in Louisiana.

Twenty-one-year-old Holden Matthews pleaded not guilty at a Monday court hearing. He was ordered to be held without bond.

Three black churches were torched in 10 days. Two were in the city of Opelousas. Another was in a nearby town.

Federal charges 'likely' against man accused of setting fire to three black churches

Matthews is the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy. He was arrested Wednesday on three charges of arson of a religious building. The three additional hate crimes charges - one for each blaze - were added Monday.

Authorities at Monday’s hearing also outlined a litany of new evidence that prosecutors say ties Matthews to the crimes.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.