A 26-year-old man accused of setting fire to a Southeast Texas mosque is to face a hate crime charge in federal court.
Marq Vincent Perez is also charged with use of a fire to commit a federal felony in the January 2017 fire that destroyed an Islamic center in Victoria, Texas. Jury selection began Monday.
A federal law enforcement officer has testified that an informant said Perez “hated” Muslims and that he believed the center’s worshippers are terrorists.
Authorities last year also charged the man with possession of an unregistered destructive device in an indictment unrelated to the mosque fire.
If convicted of the hate crime charge, the most serious count, Perez could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.