COPY-Police: Alcohol Use Key Factor in Alabama Church Arsons - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

COPY-Police: Alcohol Use Key Factor in Alabama Church Arsons

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --  Authorities say three college students charged in a string of rural church arsons may have been drinking alcohol when they allegedly set fire to a church in Bibb County.

Federal and state authorities have declined to comment on a possible motive. Defense attorneys aren't talking either, other than to say the fires were not crimes of hate.

But authorities throughout the month-long investigation said alcohol could have led to a warped bravado that sparked the arsons.

This afternoon, Benjamin Nathan Moseley and Russell Lee DeBusk Junior, both 19, along with 20-year-old Matthew Lee Cloyd will go before a U.S. Magistrate judge in Birmingham.

The court hearing could determine whether they will remain jailed on charges of conspiracy and setting fire to Ashby Baptist Church, one of nine churches that was either destroyed or damaged in early morning fires on February third and February seventh.

ATF regional head Jim Cavanaugh said -- quote -- "after they lit the first two fires, it became spontaneous. " He said excitement, thrill was the motive.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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