By Gary Lloyd
A Clay-Chalkville High School graduate convicted in nine rural church arsons pleaded at a Thursday hearing in Bibb County for forgiveness for what he and two others did in February 2006.
Benjamin Moseley, 27, read a statement in which he apologized to church members, his family and the communities. The statement was read during a hearing in front of Bibb County Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins. The hearing was for Moseley’s attorney, William N. Clark, and the attorney for Matthew Cloyd, 28, to ask Wiggins for the two men to have the remainder of their two-year state sentences suspended so the two could begin community service and paying restitution.
“He expressed a desire to, upon his release, make amends for what he did, to work to help other people avoid getting into similar situations,” Clark said.
Clark said Thursday evening that he would like to see Moseley spend the remainder of his state sentence at a community corrections program in Birmingham, where he’d work during the day and stay at night. It would allow Moseley to work and start getting back into community life, Clark said.
Wiggins did not rule on the matter, instead taking it under advisement, Clark said. The state sentence being suspended is also contingent on other jurisdictions in the state where churches were burned. In addition to Bibb County, churches were burned in Sumter, Greene and Pickens counties in February 2006. A Pickens County judge in July denied a request to suspend the state sentence.
Clark said he’s sure Moseley has sat up at night, wondering how all this happened.
“He had not been that kind of person before this happened,” Clark said. “He had been very successful in high school and then in college. It was just a real tragedy. But he has made the best of every opportunity he has had since he’s been incarcerated to take training programs of a variety of kinds.”
While serving his eight-year federal sentence at Victorville Federal Correctional Institution in Adelanto, Calif., Moseley taught guitar lessons, taught English to Hispanic inmates, completed culinary school and became the chef for the warden, took an automotive course and completed several Christian-based programs.
“He’s committed to trying to do everything he can to make amends for what he did,” Clark said.
Moseley also faces five years of probation and 300 hours of community service.
Moseley, along with Birmingham-Southern College classmates Russell DeBusk and Cloyd, were arrested in March 2006 for a string of church burnings in rural Alabama. No one was injured in the burnings.
DeBusk received a shorter federal prison sentence in the burnings, as he participated in five of them in Bibb County on Feb. 3, 2006. Moseley and Cloyd burned four more churches in Sumter, Greene and Pickens counties on Feb. 7, 2006, in an attempt to throw off investigators. The case was solved by federal agents who traced the tire tracks left by an SUV driven by Cloyd, which led to their arrests in March 2006.
DeBusk was released from federal prison on April 12, 2012, and Cloyd was released from federal prison on March 22 of this year.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.