An Indiana truck driver and former marine who seeks to withdraw his guilty plea in a mosque arson attack was given a new attorney and a new hearing date on Friday (Feb. 22).
Judge Jack Zouhary of U.S. District Court in Toledo set a March 21 hearing for the plea-withdrawal motion by Randolph Linn.
The judge also appointed John Thebes as Linn’s attorney.
Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., had pleaded guilty in December to setting the Sept. 30 fire inside the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. On Jan. 17, he filed a motion saying that the guilty plea was “not knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily made, due to my duress and my emotional state at the time.”
Linn also said in the filing that he had not discussed “defenses, tactics, strategies or the nature and effect of my guilty plea,” and that he had been “under depression over this alleged crime. I made the wrong decision.”
Zouhary on Friday discharged Andy Hart as Linn’s attorney and replaced him with Thebes.
With the guilty plea, Linn was scheduled to be sentenced April 16 and was expected to receive a 20-year prison sentence and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution that could total more than $1 million.
He said at a Dec. 19 hearing that he drank 45 beers in seven hours on Sept. 30 and “spontaneously” decided to drive 82 miles from St. Joe to Perrysburg Township, where the mosque is located.
He took three firearms with him and stopped in Perrysburg to fill three gas containers, authorities said.
Linn said he had driven past the domed mosque many times in his work as a truck driver.
The Islamic Center’s security cameras filmed Linn walking through the building, which was empty at the time, with a gun in one hand.
He admitted in the December hearing that he poured gasoline on the rug in the mosque’s main prayer room and set it on fire. He told the judge that Muslims are “going around killing us.”
When Zouhary asked Linn if knew any Muslims personally, he replied, “No, I only know what I hear on the radio and see on Fox News.”
Zouhary told him Dec. 19 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,” Zouhary said.
Linn 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 in December added a charge of using a firearm to commit a crime of violence.
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.