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Man pleads not guilty to torching historic California church

California Mission Fire
Posted at 1:42 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 16:42:28-04

SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (AP) — A man with a history of arson-related arrests who is accused of setting a fire that gutted the 250-year-old San Gabriel Mission in Southern California has pleaded not guilty to arson.

John Corey entered pleas Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Roman Catholic mission east of Los Angeles was set ablaze last July. It was left with millions of dollars in damage but the altar and historic paintings were saved.

Authorities haven’t provided a motive for the attack but the San Gabriel Tribune says Corey, who's homeless, has a long criminal history that includes arson and drug use.