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Man convicted of hate crime, arson in Texas mosque torching

July 16, 2018 GMT

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 finding 26-year-old Marq Vincent Perez guilty.

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 the Muslim community in the middle Texas Gulf Coast area 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 didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.