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2 plead guilty to firebombing Tennessee mosque

Two men pleaded guilty to firebombing a storefront mosque that was reduced to rubble with black swastikas spray painted on it.

world Updated: Nov 04, 2008 08:38 IST

Two men pleaded guilty on Monday to firebombing a storefront mosque that was reduced to rubble with black swastikas spray painted on it.

A federal indictment said the two and a third defendant also tagged "White Power" on the outside of the mosque before torching the building with Molotov cocktails. No one was injured in the February fire that burned down the Islamic Center of Columbia, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Nashville.

Jonathan Edward Stone, 19, and Michael Corey Golden, 23, both pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of destruction of religious property and one count of use of fire to damage religious property, both civil rights charges.

A sentencing date has not been set for the men, who each face up to 30 years in prison.

The third defendant, 32-year-old Eric Ian Baker, has not yet entered a plea.

He faces the same charges as Stone and Golden, along with unlawful possession of a destructive device, use of fire and explosives to commit felonies and destruction by fire and explosives of a building used in interstate and foreign commerce. The latter three charges were dropped against Stone and Golden. Golden's attorney, Michael Flanagan of Nashville, had no comment. Assistant federal public defender R David Baker, Stone's attorney, said his client is remorseful. "He doesn't wish ill on people of any color or faith," Baker said.

Eric Ian Baker's attorney did not return a voice mail message left for him Monday.

US Attorney Ed Yarbrough said it was clearly a case of racial and religious intolerance.

"Crimes of this type will not be tolerated in Middle Tennessee and offenders will be punished to the full extent of the law," Yarbrough said.