Three charged in Ala. church fires decline to post bond

Monday, March 20, 2006

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Three college students accused in a string of rural Alabama church fires will not seek release on bond on the federal charges, their attorneys said.

Attorneys for Matthew Lee Cloyd, 20, Benjamin Moseley, 19, and Russell DeBusk Jr., 19, said their clients, also facing state arson charges, won't seek federal bond.

A federal magistrate judge said Thursday the three men could be released on $50,000 bond, in cash or property, with strict conditions.

But the state arson charges in Bibb County mean the three suspects, if released on federal bond, would be sent to the Bibb County Jail, where a state judge would also consider setting bond. Moseley and Cloyd also face arrests warrants in Pickens County.

Moseley's attorney, Bill Clark of Birmingham, said Saturday his client had no plans to make the federal bond in recognition of the seriousness of the church fires and in an effort to promote healing.

"Ben Moseley is concerned for the members of the churches involved, the people in those communities and the injured firefighters," Clark said in a statement. "It is hoped that this decision will help us move forward with efforts to resolve all of these matters in a way that will result in reconciliation and restoration."

DeBusk's attorney, Brett Bloomston, said Saturday that DeBusk also would not seek release. All three suspects remained in federal custody at the Shelby County Jail. Tommy Spina, Cloyd's attorney, earlier said Cloyd will remain jailed in Shelby County, near his parents' home.

The state arrest warrants charge Moseley, Cloyd and DeBusk with arson in Bibb County, where five fires occurred Feb. 3. A second set of fires, on Feb. 7, destroyed four churches in Pickens, Sumter and Greene counties.

The three suspects were arrested March 8 on federal charges of conspiracy and setting fire to Ashby Baptist Church in Brierfield, in Bibb County.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong Jr. had said the suspects could be released on bonds of $50,000 each, provided they live with their parents under house arrest with electronic monitoring.

A federal grand jury will hear the charges later this month.


Information from: The Birmingham News

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