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Joey Meek, Who Knew Of Dylann Roof's Plan, Sentenced To 27 Months In Prison

Before Dyann Roof shot dead nine parishioners at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, he told his friend Joey Meek about his murderous plans during an alcohol and cocaine-fueled night.

Meek, 22, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in federal prison for concealing knowledge of a felony and then making false statements to the FBI.

"Meek apologized to the families of the nine victims during his sentencing hearing," South Carolina Public Radio's Alexandra Olgin reports. "Through tears, he said at the time he was very scared and made bad decisions. He says he wished he had alerted police and taken Roof more seriously."

Roof was sentenced to death in January, as The Two-Way has reported.

In an interview with the FBI, Meek had said he and Roof were neighbors as kids and that he became friends with him at the request of Roof's mother. They grew apart starting in 2010, when Roof moved away from the area, but later got back in touch in 2015.

They would get together to watch movies and do cocaine, and when Roof purchased a Glock .45, he showed it to Meek.

In June 2015, just a few days before the church massacre, Roof told Meek that he wanted to "ignite a race war," according to court documents.

"Roof stated he had been planning his attack for six months and that his plan was to kill African Americans at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina on a Wednesday evening," Meek's testimony reads. He also told investigators that Roof planned to kill himself after the attack.

That night, after Roof fell asleep, Meek told the investigators that he took Roof's car keys, removed the gun from the car and hid it in a vent in his house.

But then he had second thoughts: "Prior to Roof waking up, Meek ended up putting the firearm back into the trunk of Roof's car because Meek was on probation for a felony offense and was concerned about being caught with a weapon."

As The Two-Way reported, Meek pleaded guilty to the two federal counts in April 2016.

The Associated Press writes that U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel told the court that "he wanted Meek to spend time in prison as a deterrent for anyone in the future who knows about something so serious and fails to report it."

Meek's attorney, Deborah Barbier, had argued that her client was "not equipped to anticipate Roof's capabilities or acts," according to The Post and Courier.

He could have faced a far longer sentence, the newspaper reports:

"Meek, a Lexington County resident, had faced up to eight years prison after pleading guilty last year to misprision of a felony and lying to federal agents. But sentencing guidelines for misprision, considered his most serious charge, had called for between 27 and 33 months behind bars.

"His term was on the low end of that range. The defense had asked for less. Prosecutors wanted more."

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.