A Lexington County man who investigators say misled them about his knowledge of accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof’s plans has now pleaded guilty to two charges.
21-year-old Joey Meek pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to one count each of failure to report a crime (misprision) and lying to investigators. Prosecutors arrested Meek, who had allowed Roof to stay in his Lexington County home prior to the June 2015 attack, in September. He faces up to eight years in prison but will see a reduced sentence if he cooperates with prosecutors and testifies against Roof.
During his plea hearing, Meek admitted Roof had told him in advance of his plans to target the historically-black Charleston church. Roof is accused of killing nine people at a Bible study, including the church’s pastor and State Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
Several media outlets interviewed Meek in the weeks after the attack. Meek said his friend had begun complaining that “blacks were taking over the world.” Meek had insisted he did not take Roof’s words seriously, but did tell the Washington Post last year he’d helped hide Roof’s gun when his friend drunkenly claimed he was going to “do something crazy.”
However, the plea documents presented Friday present a very different story. Meek indicated that he knew Roof had been planning for months to attack Emanuel AME, even telling his housemate some of the specifics of his plan. Meek also said Roof told him that he planned to commit suicide after the attacks. Prosecutors said Meek told friends and family on the night of the shooting not to call police.
“Mr. Meek is very young. He has a very limited education,” his attorney Debbie Barbier told reporters after the hearing. “When these unspeakable acts were committed, he was very scared. He was in shock.” She added her client did not try to stop Roof out of fear and that he asked the public for forgiveness, but doesn’t expect to get it.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel accepted the plea deal on Friday. Meek will be sentenced after he testifies against Roof. Meek has been free on bail since November.
Roof is awaiting his own state trial that is slated to start next year. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson has indicated she will seek the death penalty against the 22-year-old. A federal trial date is not set and the Justice Department has not decided if it will also seek the death penalty. Roof’s defense attorneys have indicated he is willing to plead guilty if prosecutors do not pursue a capital case against him.