The White Landry Parish man who torched three Black churches in April 2019 to curry favor with “black metal” music fans has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison after multiple members of the incinerated churches described the suffering he had caused them.
Earnest Hines, a deacon at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas who works as a bricklayer, told U.S. District Judge Robert R. Summerhays on Monday he had been “mending and fixing on that building” for 30 years. “The legacy that I wanted to leave behind was you don’t need a lot of money, resources, or even a big congregation to have a church,” Hines said. “Now I can’t point to the steps and say I built those by myself. I wanted my work to be an example to all people. That’s all burned down.”
In addition to giving Holden Matthews, 22, a lengthy prison sentence, Summerhays in the Lafayette federal court also ordered the defendant to pay almost $2.7 million combined to Mt. Pleasant, to Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas and to St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre.
Addressing the members of the three churches, Matthews said, “There’s not a word in the English language to say how sorry I am.” He said he wished he had a chance to rebuild the churches “with my own hands, brick by brick.” Matthews pleaded guilty in February to state and federal charges related to the arsons. He has not been sentenced in state court, but whatever sentence he receives is expected to run concurrently with his federal sentence.
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