CRIME

Man Convicted Of Hate Crime After Burning Down Texas Mosque

The crime last year was fueled by a "rabid hatred" of Muslims, prosecutors said.
Damage from a fire that gutted the Victoria Islamic Center in January 2017 is shown in this handout photo released by the Dep
Damage from a fire that gutted the Victoria Islamic Center in January 2017 is shown in this handout photo released by the Department of Justice in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 8, 2017.

VICTORIA, Texas (AP) — A man accused of torching a South Texas mosque last year has been convicted of federal arson and explosives charges and of a hate crime charge.

A jury in Victoria, Texas, deliberated about three hours before convicting 26-year-old Marq Vincent Perez.

Prosecutor Sharad Khandelwal said during the trial that a “rabid hatred” of Muslims led Perez to set fire last year to an Islamic center in Victoria, destroying the building. Another prosecutor asserted that Perez aimed to terrorize Muslims along the middle Texas Gulf Coast and to cause damage and destruction.

Perez, who denied involvement in the blaze, could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

Defense attorney Mark Di Carlo said he and his client were “very disappointed” but no decision has been made to appeal.

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