South Carolina

Roof friend to plead guilty to federal charges in Charleston massacre

Joey Meek
Joey Meek Associated Press

Joseph Meek, the friend of accused killer Dylann Roof, has agreed to plead guilty to two federal charges in connection with the massacre of nine African-Americans at a Charleston church.

Meek, 21, has agreed to plead guilty to concealing information about a crime and one count of lying to an FBI agent, according to documents made public Monday.

Roof, an avowed white supremacist from Columbia, stayed at Meek’s mobile home in the Red Bank area of Lexington County before the killings June 17.

Meek will be expected to testify in any trial involving Roof, facing the death penalty on murder charges in state court. Roof’s trial on those charges is set for January.

Besides providing information about Roof’s whereabouts before the killings, Meek will be able to testify that the killings were premeditated and planned.

The plea agreement doesn’t spell out what Meek knew about Roof’s plans and when Meek knew it.

Roof also is charged with murder in federal court, but U.S. Justice officials have not decided yet to seek the death penalty.

U.S Attorney Bill Nettles, and Meek’s attorney, Debbie Barbier of Columbia, had no comment on the plea agreement.

Meek is slated to plead guilty at 1 p.m. Friday before U.S. Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston. It will be up to Gergel, a Columbia native, to decide whether to accept the plea and what sentence to give Meek.

Meek faces a maximum of eight years in prison on the two charges.

However, those who cooperate with prosecutors usually wind up with reduced sentences.

Meek’s plea agreement says that if he cooperates, federal prosecutors will support a lesser sentence of unspecified length.

He is free on $25,000 bond following his arrest by FBI agents.

Meek is not alleged to have taken part in the killings.

For several weeks prior to the slayings, Roof stayed with Meek at a mobile home along with Meek’s brothers, Justin, 18; Jacob, 15; and Meek’s girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, 19.

When he was indicted, federal prosecutors alleged Meek knew about Roof’s plans to shoot African-American parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

An indictment said he “did not, as soon as possible, make known the same to some judge or other person in civil authority.

It also alleges that on the day after the shootings, Meek told an FBI agent “he did not know specifics of Dylann Roof’s plan” to kill people at the church.

The indictment alleged “Meek’s statements and representations denying such specifics were false, fictitious and fraudulent when made.”

In interviews with The State newspaper before his arrest, Meek acknowledged he heard Roof indicate he wanted to commit violence against black people. But Meek said he didn’t take his friend seriously.