Joey Meek was the only person Dylann Roof talked to about his plan to kill black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. Meek never alerted authorities to his friend’s plot and after Roof’s massacre lied to the FBI about what he knew.
On Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced Meek to 27 months in federal prison and said he hoped the sentence would deter him from making the same mistakes.
“The danger he exposed this community to was extraordinary. We want other people in a similar situation to make the right decision that this defendant did not,” U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said Tuesday, according to the Post and Courier.
Meek, 22, initially faced a longer stretch behind bars, but he struck a plea deal with prosecutors last year for the chance of a shorter sentence by pleading guilty to “misprision,” which amounts to his failure to tell authorities what he knew about Roof’s actions when they questioned him after the killings happened. Meek, however, avoided prosecution for failing to alert authorities about Roof’s plan ― which Meek had prior knowledge of ― before he committed the crime.
Meek also told some of his own friends about Roof’s plot and discouraged them from contacting police.
When the FBI interviewed Meek after the shooting, he said he didn’t know about Roof’s plan. He later admitted that he had lied, confirming to prosecutors that he meant to mislead investigators.
Roof and Meek were childhood friends who authorities said grew apart but later reconnected. Roof slept at Meek’s home several times in the weeks before the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
When the two men would drink, use drugs and play video games, Roof, an avowed white supremacist, reportedly made his views known: He believed in segregation, he felt that blacks were “taking over” and that he wanted to start a race war.
Meek has repeatedly said that he never sounded the alarm about Roof’s troubling statements, even as a plan for the shooting took shape, because “I didn’t take him seriously.”
During Tuesday’s sentencing, Meek cried and apologized to the families of the massacre victims, the Post and Courier reports.
“I’m really, really sorry. A lot of beautiful lives were taken,” Meek said.