SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A jury on Thursday convicted a 26-year-old white man in what prosecutors say was the racially motivated burning of a predominantly black church just hours after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.
The all-white, 12-member jury found Michael Jacques guilty on Thursday of all the charges he faced in the burning of Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts. He faces 10 to 60 years in prison.
Prosecutors portrayed Jacques and two friends who pleaded guilty as racists who were upset at the election of the first African-American president.
However, Jacques, his lawyer and family say he's not racist and only confessed during a police interrogation because he suffered withdrawal from painkillers.
"They've got it all wrong. I'm innocent," Jacques told a TV reporter. "I'm not racist."
"I believed that he had a very, very viable defense," said defense attorney Lori Levinson. "He did have a viable defense and we will be appealing."