Guilty pleas expected in arson case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Three college students charged with setting fire to West Alabama churches will plead guilty Wednesday in Birmingham&8217;s federal court, according to court documents.

The former Birmingham-Southern College students, including Indian Springs resident Matthew Leed Cloyd, are expected to plead guilty to arson and conspiracy in a hearing Wednesday afternoon before U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor.

Cloyd, along with Russell DeBusk and Benjamin Moseley, were scheduled to stand trial beginning Jan. 16.

All three suspects are charged with setting fire to five churches in Bibb County, while Cloyd and Moseley are also charged with burning four more churches in rural West Alabama.

The church arsons took place between Feb. 3 and Feb. 7.

The defendants&8217; lawyers had tried to settle the case out of court to avoid a trail all together.

The three men still face charges of state arson and burglary in Bibb, Pickens, Greene and Sumter Counties.

They have been held in the Shelby County Jail since their March arrest.