Meek pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI
He is a childhood friend of Dylann Roof
The friend of Dylann Roof who admitted not telling authorities about Roof’s plans to massacre black people at a Charleston, South Carolina, church, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in federal prison.
“I don’t know if I will make it out of prison alive. I’m scared,” Meek told the court during the sentencing hearing, according to CNN affiliate WCSC.
“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “(I) really wish I would have called the cops.”
Meek, who has been free on bond, also was sentenced to one year of supervised release. He asked to serve his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution near relatives in Edgefield, South Carolina, his attorney told WCSC.
No one spoke at the hearing on behalf of the victims or their families, the station reported.
Meek was not accused of having a direct role in the June 17, 2015, slaying of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Roof, 22, was found guilty of those killings in federal court and has been sentenced to death.
Federal prosecutors said Meek told friends and family members about the shooting that night but tried to prevent them from coming forward.
Meek, of Lexington, South Carolina, was arrested in September 2015 and charged with misprision of a felony – concealing and failing to report a crime – and lying to the FBI.
He pleaded guilty to those charges in April, court records show. He faced as many as eight years in prison.
After the killings, Meek talked to investigators, as well as several reporters. Meek told CNN he called the FBI the morning after the shooting, describing Roof and giving investigators the license plate number of his car.
Meek told reporters that Roof had vague plans about starting a race war and had drunkenly vowed to “do something crazy.” Meek said he did not take Roof seriously, but he said he hid his friend’s gun the night of that boast. He put it back the next day, he said.
In the indictments against Meek, prosecutors alleged he told an FBI agent questioning him after the shootings that “he did not know specifics of Dylann Roof’s plan to shoot individuals on a Wednesday, during Bible Study, at an AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.”
In reality, prosecutors said, “Meek’s statements and representations denying such specifics were false, fictitious and fraudulent when made.”
The indictment also charged Meek with failing to notify authorities of any information he had regarding the shooting “as soon as possible.”
Two witnesses testified for Meek at Tuesday’s hearing, WCSC reported. A correctional system analyst, James Aiken, described Meek as a low-risk prisoner but predicted he’ll be placed in solitary confinement for his own protection. A psychiatrist also testified, the station reported.
Reading from notes provided to WCSC, Meek’s defense lawyer, Deborah Barbier, said after the hearing that her client “has expressed to all of the families of the victims of the brutal murders at the AME church his sincere remorse and sympathies for their losses.”
“Joey sincerely hopes that anyone who has a friend who is talking about hurting someone will take it seriously, learn from his mistake and notify the proper authorities immediately,” she said.
Meek told CNN he had been friends with Roof in middle school. They’d lost touch a few years ago but reconnected in the months before the shooting, Meek said, adding that there were things about Roof’s behavior that scared him.
Roof still faces a state trial for the killings, and state prosecutors have said they’ll also seek the death penalty.