Joey Meek, the only person Dylann Roof told about his plot to massacre Black worshipers at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, cried as a judge sentenced him on Tuesday to 27 months in prison for failing to report a crime and lying to investigators, NBC News reports.
Meek, 22, faced 27 to 33 months behind bars. Although giving him the minimum sentence, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he hoped the prosecution and sentencing of Meek would deter others from failing to report a serious crime.
Roof and Meek formed a friendship in middle school but drifted apart in their high school years after Roof relocated. But they reconnected on Facebook months before the shooting.
The convicted church shooter told Meek about his plan on a night when the two friends used drugs and played video games.
Federal prosecutors said Meek lied to the FBI when he denied knowing about Roof’s plot. Meek also stopped a friend from contacting the police after the shooting.
Meek ultimately signed a plea deal in which he admitted to his false statements and failing to report the June 2015 mass shooting. He also agreed to help authorities prosecute Roof, who was sentenced to death for killing nine worshipers.
Gergel said he could only sentence Meek for failing to report Roof after the shooting. The judge explained that federal law does not permit him to punish Meek for not reporting the plot beforehand.
“I’m really, really sorry,” said a tearful Meek at his sentencing, according to the Associated Press. “A lot of beautiful lives were taken.”
Meek’s lawyer, Deborah Barbier, said he sent handwritten letters of apology to the families of each victim.