A federal judge ruled Monday that a friend of convicted Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof cannot face a longer prison sentence just because he did not tell authorities about Roof’s plan to kill black parishioners at the Charleston church.
Prosecutors had been seeking a sentence for Joey Meek that was outside the normal federal guidelines due to the severe and heinous nature of Roof’s crimes and Meek’s failure to tell anyone about them.
But the Post and Courier reports U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said Meek did nothing to cover up his knowledge of Roof’s plans and did not break the law before Roof committed the massacre that killed nine worshippers at the historically-black church. Meek, who had been Roof’s roommate immediately before the shootings, has said he didn’t take Roof’s plans seriously.
Judge Gergel said Meek did not violate the law until after the shootings, when he told others not to say anything about their belief that Roof was behind the attack. He pleaded guilty last year to misprision of a felony and lying to federal agents prior to Roof’s trial.
The judge’s order said that prosecutors could ask for a harsher prison term than sentencing guidelines suggest only because of Meek’s actions after the killings. The judge also overruled two other arguments.
Federal guidelines in the situation (Meek pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators after he was charged) recommend approximately 27-33 months for Meek. The maximum he could otherwise face is 8 years. Gergel will make the sentencing decision at a future hearing.
Prosecutors have previously said Meek agreed to cooperate in Roof’s trial as a condition of his guilty plea, but he never ended up testifying.