Fire suspects remain in jail

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Three young men remain in jail today even after a federal magistrate judge set their bonds at $50,000 last week.

Indian Springs resident Matthew Lee Cloyd, 20, a graduate of Oak Mountain High School, was arrested March 8 and charged with conspiracy to damage and destroy buildings by fire and maliciously destroying the Ashby Baptist Church in Brierfield.

Cloyd was arrested on the federal charges along with Benjamin Moseley, 19, and Russell DeBusk, 19, both students at Birmingham-Southern College.

Since their arrest, they&8217;ve been held in the Shelby County Jail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong Jr. set bail for the three young men at $50,000, provided they live with their parents under house arrest with video monitoring.

But attorneys for the three indicate the threat of an arrest on state arson charges that would move them to the Bibb County Jail has forced a decision not to post bail.

&8220;As a practical matter, the public should know that if the defendants make bond, they will not be going home,&8221; U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said.

Cloyd&8217;s attorney Tommy Spina said last week his client would remain in the Shelby County facility. Moseley&8217;s attorney, Bill Clark, said his client would not post bond either, and DeBusk&8217;s attorney, Brett Bloomston, said the same on Saturday, according to media reports.

Following the magistrate&8217;s bond ruling last week, arrest warrants for state arson charges were filed in Bibb County and Pickens County.

The state warrants charge Moseley, Cloyd and DeBusk with arson in Bibb County where five Baptist churches were set afire on Feb. 3.

Other fires occurred at four churches in Pickens, Sumter and Greene counties on Feb. 7.

The three college students have claimed they set the fires as a &8220;prank.&8221;

Media reports indicate the federal case is expected to be presented to a federal grand jury by the end of the month