Judge denies motion for tougher sentencing for friend of Charleston church shooter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A U.S. district judge denied a motion to allow tougher sentencing for the friend of the convicted Charleston church shooter who authorities say lied to investigators about the crime.

Joey Meek is charged with misprision of a felony and making a false statement, and pleaded guilty. Both charges carry a sentence of eight years total.

In February, prosecutors filed a motion urging the court to punish Meek more harshly so that his punishment would "reflect the seriousness of his crime."

Prosecutors said the court should take into account the "horrific nature" of Roof's actions, killing nine people at the downtown Charleston church on Jan. 17, 2015, and said the crime was "beyond the contemplation" of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which set limits on sentencing. Prosecutors also argued for a tougher sentence because Meek's "failure to promptly report Roof's plans to law enforcement denied officials the opportunity to prevent Roof's attack on Emanuel AME Church."

The judge denied both arguments in an order issued Monday.

It is not clear when Meek's sentencing, which had been delayed, will take place.

Prosecutors said Roof told Meek a week before the shooting that he had planned for six months to kill people at an AME church in Charleston to start a race war because no one else would. Prosecutors also said Roof told Meek he planned to kill himself after carrying out the killings.

"While Meek was not legally required to notify authorities, the Court should take into account in arriving at the appropriate sentence that Meek failed to notify authorities and, as a result, law enforcement was deprived opportunity to take action to prevent Roof's attack," the motion stated.

According to federal authorities, after Meek learned that others had, over his objection, called police, he lied to the agents about his knowledge of Roof's plot at the Mother Emmanuel AME church. Prosecutors said when one of those friends called the FBI tip line, Meek then told the FBI what he knew.

Roof was convicted in December on 33 federal charges and sentenced to death in January.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.