Mosque arson suspect has prior criminal history

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The man charged with setting a mosque on fire in southwest Houston appeared before a judge for the first time Thursday.

Moore's attorney maintains his client did not start the fire. However, the prosecutor says evidence tells a much different story.

Moore walked into the courtroom, his hands and ankles shackled. Harris County Assistant DA Justin Wood went over what investigators say happened Christmas Day at the mosque, pointing to surveillance video showing Moore leaving the building. Wood says lighter fluid was found in Moore's home -- the same accelerant found in the mosque.

When the judge asked Wood why investigators think Moore did this Wood said they're still trying to figure that out.

"I think anybody who is capable of committing this kind of act is dangerous," Wood said. "We are talking about a very public place, we are talking about during a very public time of prayer. There were many people in this shopping center complex and anybody who is capable of that is considered dangerous."

Moore's attorney, Ed Chernoff, spoke to abc13 as he was leaving the courtroom.

"He didn't do it," Chernoff said of his client. "That's what he says so let's just wait for the evidence. Let's not jump the gun here. Let's find out what other evidence is produced but so far all we have is that he's at the scene of the crime and they have lighter fluid at his house."

Moore is in jail with no bond. Chernoff tried to fight that saying the 37-year-old husband and father of six has strong ties to Houston and he's not a flight risk. The judge isn't so sure. Since Moore has a criminal past in several other states, including a 2006 federal conviction of marriage fraud in New York, she denied bail. The judge requested Moore's US passport be handed over Monday before discussing a change.
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