Louisiana Man Who Burned Down 3 Black Churches in 2019 Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Illustration for article titled Louisiana Man Who Burned Down 3 Black Churches in 2019 Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
Photo: St. Landry Parish Sheriff Department

23-year-old Holden Matthews—the black metal-loving son of a St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, sheriff’s deputy who wasn’t officially named a white supremacist despite having pleaded guilty to burning down three Black churches in 2019—was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison for his crimes, according to the Department of Justice.


CNN reports that along with the prison sentence, Matthews was ordered to pay more than $2.66 million in restitution to the churches that he burned down within a 10 day period beginning on March 26 of last year.

From CNN:

Matthews must pay $590,246 to St. Mary Baptist Church, $970,213.30 to Greater Union and $1.1 million to Mt. Pleasant, a DOJ statement said Monday. He will have three years of supervised release.

The fires destroyed all three churches in Landry Parish.

“These churches trace their origins to the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and, for generations, were a place for predominantly African American Christians to gather, pray, worship, and celebrate their faith,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said. “The churches survived for nearly 150 years but did not survive this defendant’s warped act of hatred.”

Matthews—the genius who admitted in court that, in his infinite wisdom, he took photographs and videos with his cell phone while burning the churches to the ground and posted them on Facebook “in an effort to promote himself in the Black Metal community,” as CNN reports—has also pleaded guilty to six state charges. Those charges include hate crime charges and aggravated arson of a religious building, according to the New York Times.

As The Root has previously reported, despite all of the churches Matthews burned down being Black churches, investigators determined that race wasn’t a primary factor in what Matthews did. (Which...OK, but you wrong though.) According to the Times, Matthew admitted that he targeted the buildings because of their religious character.

Side note: In April 2019, Dustin Talbot, Matthews’ federal public defender, told the Washington Post that his client’s crime wasn’t racially motivated and that he only chose Black churches because “they have a lot of wood in them.” Is the containing of extra planks of wood even a negro church stereotype? Does he think anointed lumber is why Black gospel music is so fire? I’m not saying Matthews is a white supremacist; I’m just saying he makes up asinine defenses for what looks like racism like a white supremacist.

Anyway, according to the Acadiana Advocate of Lafayette, Matthews addressed congregants of the churches he burned during his sentencing hearing at the United States District Court in Lafayette, La.


“There are not enough words in the English language to say how sorry I am,” Matthews said. “If I could go back and change it I would.”

According to the Times, Matthews was granted time served for the 18 months that he has been in custody since his arrest in April 2019. Sentencing for the state charges he pleaded guilty to is still pending.



Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons


Foxstar loves Bashcraft

Fantastic. When you have a federal jail term, you have to serve at least 80% of it to even get them to look at your file for parole. Homeboy’s pissed away most of his life for complete bullshit that won’t endear him to the people he was trying to impress and there are still more charges pending.

I see hate and stupidity have done a number on his complexion too.