Law Student Fights Extradition to La. for Arson

Aug. 22--SAN ANTONIO -- During a brief court appearance Thursday morning, the St. Mary's University law student accused of arson and attempted murder told Magistrate Judge Andrew Carruthers he would not sign a waiver to be extradited to Louisiana, where he's wanted in the alleged crimes.

Matthew Edward Alexander, 29, will instead fight the process, requiring authorities in Ouachita Parish to apply for a governor's warrant to have him transferred there.

They have 30 days to file for the warrant.

Louisiana prosecutors allege he used 10 gallons of gasoline and a 5-gallon propane tank to torch the home and car of an ex-employer in West Monroe as two people slept inside on Aug. 7.

The two inside escaped without injury and told police Alexander might be a suspect, describing him as a disgruntled ex-employee who for three years had threatened them via telephone and online.

Initially, authorities said Alexander was wanted on two counts of murder in addition to two arson charges. Later, the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office clarified the charges were for attempted murder and arson, but in Bexar County on Thursday, that correction seemingly hadn't yet been made.

Judge Carruthers told Alexander he was facing two counts of murder and two arson charges, "serious" offenses that he determined merited a bail of $250,000 per count.

"I was told $225,000 would be the total, and the murder charges were reduced to attempted murder," Alexander said to the judge, apparently surprised.

Carruthers reviewed the documents once more before confirming the charge was murder.

On his way back to the jury box to await transport back to Bexar County Jail, Alexander made an obscene gesture at a San Antonio Express-News photographer, prompting bailiffs to rush to him and admonish him to stop.

An arrest warrant affidavit indicates police questioned Alexander about his whereabouts around the time the fire started and he claimed to have been in Texas. Data collected from his phone's GPS tracking contradicted that, authorities said, and indicates he was in the vicinity of the fire.

mcasady@express-news.net

Twitter: @MichelleCasady

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