Toledo mosque arsonist can’t withdraw guilty plea, judge rules

A former Marine who admitted setting fire to an Ohio mosque because he wanted revenge for the killings of American troops overseas won’t be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, a judge ruled Thursday.

Randy Linn had asked to take back his admission to hate crime charges in January, a month after he explained in detail how he drove from his Indiana home to the suburban Toledo mosque and burned a prayer rug, causing extensive damage in the building.

Linn, 52, said he was in an emotional and depressed state when he pleaded guilty. His attorney asked the judge to throw out the plea so Linn could undergo a competency exam.

U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary rejected the request, saying there was nothing indicating Linn was a candidate for an insanity plea and that he clearly was competent when he pleaded guilty in December.

Linn said at the time he decided to start the fire after seeing images of wounded soldiers in the news. Prosecutors maintained that Linn did not act on impulse and pointed out that he told his son two weeks before the fire that he wanted to burn down the mosque.

In opposing the withdrawal, prosecutors noted that Linn drove two hours from his home in St. Joe, Ind., to the mosque and that he stopped on the way to fill three gas cans to start the fire.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan said Linn was asked at least four times before entering his guilty plea if he understood what he was doing. “He’s just having second thoughts,” she told the judge.

A deal between prosecutors and Linn calls for him to receive a 20-year sentence. He’s scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Associated Press, 21 March 2013