Attorneys Expect Indictment in South Texas Mosque Fire

TEHRAN (IQNA) – Federal authorities expect a grand jury to indict a Victoria man of several crimes, including the burning of an Islamic mosque in that city in the US state of Texas, court documents show.

Attorneys Expect Indictment in South Texas Mosque Fire

US attorneys revealed during a bond hearing in Corpus
Christi shortly after his March 4 arrest that Marq Vincent Perez was a suspect
to the Jan. 28 burglary and fire that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center.

The lawyers described it as a hate crime and presented
messages and witness testimony that described Perez as hating Muslims and
suspecting Victoria Muslims were tied to terrorist organizations.

An FBI agent who testified also accused Perez, 25, of
setting fire to a car belonging to a man Perez had a dispute with and breaking
into and stealing a laptop from the mosque before the fire.

But the federal grand jury in Victoria on March 24 returned
an indictment unrelated to the mosque fire or previous burglary. Perez remains
only charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device, which stems
from the Jan. 15 car fire. That charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10
years. The trial is slated to begin May 1.

According to documents filed in the US Southern of District
of Texas last week, a grand jury is mulling Perez’s involvement in the other
crimes.

“The grand jury in Victoria is continuing its investigation
of (Perez) and his involvement in all of the crimes described above, including
the hate crime of burning the mosque in Victoria,” court documents state. “The
United States anticipates that the grand jury may issue one or more superseding
indictments related to these different events as that investigation proceeds.”

Prosecutors requested the case be heard in Victoria, instead
of Corpus Christi. Though Perez’s first hearing was before a magistrate judge
in Corpus Christi who covers both the Corpus Christi and Victoria divisions,
the case was moved to Houston after Perez was indicted. Perez’s Corpus Christi
lawyer, Mark Di Carlo, successfully argued against the move and requested the
case be in either Corpus Christi or Victoria. A judge sent it back to Corpus
Christi.

Now, Di Carlo is arguing it should stay in Corpus Christi.
In a response filed Monday, Di Carlo accused the prosecutors of forum shopping
and “acting in a highly irregular manner.” Di Carlo also said Perez
has received unfair media coverage in Victoria and accused prosecutors or law
enforcement of tipping Victoria media to the case.

Nearly all the witnesses and evidence are in Victoria, prosecutors
wrote in their request. Prosecutors also requested a judge order evidence
turned over to the defense remain confidential before trial.

Perez, who has no criminal history, has previously disputed
the accusations through his lawyer. Di Carlo has pointed out the witness who
led authorities to Perez also admitted to being with him when the fire was set
at the mosque. And a confidential informant federal authorities have referenced
had access to Perez’s home, where items from the mosque were found, Di Carlo
has said.

Perez is being held without bail in the DeWitt County Jail
in Cuero.

More than $1 million in donations poured into the mosque’s
rebuilding efforts within days of the fire.

Source: The Caller Times

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