Indiana man seeks to withdraw guilty plea in Ohio mosque arson

TOLEDO, Ohio (RNS) Randolph Linn, the Indiana truck driver who pleaded guilty last month to federal arson and related crimes committed at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, has asked to withdraw his plea.

In a motion filed Tuesday (Jan. 22) in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Linn said his guilty plea submitted Dec. 19 “was not knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily made, due to my duress and my emotional state at the time of my plea. … I request to have my plea of guilty withdrawn.”

Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., said in the motion that “I did not have the opportunity to discuss defenses, tactics, strategies or the nature and effect of my guilty plea and sentencing. At the time I was under depression over this alleged crime. I made the wrong decision.”

In the Dec. 19 hearing before U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary, Linn said he drank 45 beers in seven hours on Sept. 30 and “spontaneously” decided to drive 82 miles from St. Joe to Perrysburg, Ohio, where the mosque is located.
He took three firearms with him and stopped in Perrysburg to fill three gas containers, authorities said.

A former marine and a truck driver, Linn said in court that he had driven past the domed mosque at the junction of I-75 and I-475 many times.

The mosque’s security cameras filmed Linn walking through the building, which was empty at the time, with a gun in one hand. He admitted in court that he poured gasoline on the rug in the mosque’s main prayer hall and set it on fire and told the judge that Muslims are “going around killing us.”

Zouhary told Linn that the attack on the mosque was an attack on all places of religion.“You are no better than the terrorists or extremists you sought to punish,” the judge told Linn.

Linn, who is being held at the Milan Detention Facility in Milan, Mich., was initially charged with one count each of intentionally damaging religious property and using fire or explosives in commission of a felony. A federal grand jury last month added a charge of using a firearm to commit a crime of violence.

He pleaded guilty to all three counts as part of a binding agreement, and is likely to be given 20 years in prison when he is sentenced April 16.

Zouhary is also expected to order Linn to pay a $250,000 fine and restitution that may exceed $1 million.

Damage to the mosque from the blaze and from water from the building’s sprinkler system and firefighters’ hoses is estimated at $1.5 million.

Linn’s public defender, Andrew Hart, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

(David Yonke is the editor of Toledo Faith & Values)

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