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Tennessee man charged with murder for burning black man to death, then using Bible to justify act

When it comes to why John Daniel Carothers allegedly burned a black man to death in central Tennessee, prosecutors think his own words to a white supremacist group explain it all.

“My brothers in Jesus Christ our savior and Lord,” the letter begins. “My name is John Carothers and I believe the bible is about white people and for white people. I am in the Rutherford County Jail for burning a black man. I set him on fire with lighter fluid poured on his head.”

Jail employees in Rutherford County, Tennessee, intercepted the letter from the 53-year-old Carothers to an unnamed white supremacist group, WTVF-TV in Nashville reported.

The letter also requested the group send a study Bible and asks the recipient to “look up Murfreesboro, TN 37129 for March 17th or 18th. It appears he died on the 24th.”

Police arrested Carothers on March 17, charging him with the murder of Robert Miller, a black man living with Carothers in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, about 40 minutes southeast of Nashville.

An officer stopped Carothers near a convenience store because he matched the description of a man wanted for arson. Police found a backpack and an empty Zippo lighter fluid bottle on him, the Murfreesboro Post reported.

“He said, ‘I live in a place I burned,’” Officer Quinn Rodriguez testified during a preliminary hearing for Carothers.

Prosecutors believe Carothers poured the lighter fluid on Miller, who later died from burn-related injuries.

District Attorney Jennings Jones said that Tennessee has no hate crime law, but if Carothers is found guilty, the fact that the alleged murder appears to be race-related could be used during the sentencing phase of the trial. Jennings also said federal authorities may look at the case as a hate crime. As of Tuesday, Carothers faced no federal charges.

Carothers has also been charged with arson and seven counts of reckless endangerment, based on the number of people who lived in the veterans’ home. He remains in the Rutherford County Jail.

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