A friend of the man responsible for murdering nine parishioners at a South Carolina church last year will plead guilty to federal charges brought against him, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court Monday.
Joey Meek, 21, will plead guilty to two charges. Per Reuters, Meek was indicted for withholding information concerning the murderous plans of his friend Dylann Roof and and for lying to investigators. He is expected to change his plea Friday at 1 p.m. in U.S. District Court.
The charges Meek faces could land him up to eight years behind bars. However, the plea deal between he and prosecutors greatly reduces his sentence if he fully cooperates with the state and government prosecutions of Roof, The Post and Courier reports. He may also be subjected to polygraph tests, in which the government could overturn the plea agreement depending on his performance.
Meek, who has been out on bail since November, will likely be sentenced after Roof. It’s also probable that he will be called as a witness in the mass shooter’s state death penalty trial, which is set for Jan. 17, and proceeding in federal court.
Roof entered the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015 and opened fire on parishioners who were there for Bible study. He killed nine people that day, including the church’s pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Roof faces 33 federal charges, which include hate crimes, obstruction of religion, and firearms violations, Reuters reports. South Carolina prosecutors also charged him with nine counts of murder as well as the attempted murders of three parishioners who survived. Roof’s federal trial has been delayed many times as prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty.
According to The Post and Courier, childhood buddies Roof and Meek rekindled their friendship in the weeks leading up to the massacre and hung out at the mobile home where Meek lives with his family. Meek’s loved ones told The Post and Courier that Roof had made drunken statements about committing acts of violence and inciting a race war, but admit they didn’t take his threats seriously. They said Meek hid his friend’s .45 caliber pistol until he sobered up.
Meek himself also told the Associated Press last year that Roof was inebriated and complained that “Blacks were taking over the world” and “someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” NBC News reports. Meek then lied to an FBI agent, claiming that “he did not know specifics of Dylann Roof’s plan to shoot individuals on a Wednesday, during Bible Study, at an AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.”
No federal trial date has been set for Roof.