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Apr 20, 2011 12:17
Category: Religious News

Trial starts in alleged Obama-inspired church

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A federal prosecutor has told a jury in Springfield, Mass., that a man and two friends were racists who were so angry when Barack Obama was elected president that they burned down a predominantly African-American church just hours after the voting ended.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Smyth gave his opening argument Monday on the first day of the trial of 26-year-old Michael Jacques.

Jacques and two co-defendants were charged with using gasoline to set Springfield's Macedonia Church of God in Christ on fire in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2008. The building was under construction at the time. A few firefighters were injured, but have recovered.

Authorities say all three men, who are white, confessed to setting the fire. But Jacques' lawyer, Lori Levinson, told the jury that authorities coerced him into confessing.