Judge refuses to reduce charges in mosque fire

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) -- A judge has refused to reduce charges against three men accused of burning down a mosque in Columbia.

Defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully Monday that the charges should be reduced to arson, instead of arson of a religious building.

The case against Jonathan Stone, 18, Michael Golden, 22, and Eric Baker, 22, will go to a grand jury, which is expected to convene in about 30 days.

The three are accused of using gasoline, rags and empty beer bottles to set fire to the Islamic Center of Columbia in a storefront on Feb. 9. Racial slurs were painted on the walls.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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