Three Suspects in Church Fires Expected to Plead Guilty

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Three former college students charged in the burning of west Alabama churches are expected to plead guilty in federal court.

Matthew Cloyd, Benjamin Nathan Moseley and Russell Lee Debusk are scheduled to appear in federal court in Birmingham to plead guilty to the church fires.

Defense attorneys and federal prosecutors worked out a plea deal on the federal arson and conspiracy charges. Details of the agreement were scheduled to be unveiled in court.

The three will be sentenced later. Federal prosecutors say the federal charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years.

Defense attorney Brett Bloomston says Debusk decided to plead guilty "to help those congregations and others hurt by his behavior continue to heal."

The three are also charged with state crimes in Bibb, Pickens, Greene and Sumter counties.

Defense attorneys have been discussing a similar plea deal with county prosecutors. None has been reached.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)