INDIO (AP) — A Palm Desert man has pleaded not guilty to setting fire to a Coachella mosque earlier this month.
Prosecutors say 23-year-old Carl Dial of Palm Desert entered pleas Wednesday to arson, burglary and committing a hate crime. He could face nearly 11 ½ years in prison if convicted.
Dial is charged with setting a fire last Friday at the Islamic Society of Coachella Valley. The blaze was confined to the lobby, and nobody was hurt.
The mosque is about 75 miles from San Bernardino, where a couple authorities said were inspired by Islamist extremists recently killed 14 people.
Some Muslims have worried that they will be targeted for reprisals.
Last weekend, two mosques in Hawthorne were vandalized with paint and a fake grenade was left. No arrests were made.
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