CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The person to whom Dylann Roof shared his plan to kill parishioners at a historically black church in downtown Charleston will spend 27 months in prison for lying to the FBI.
Joey Meek was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, the same federal judge who presided over Roof's death penalty trial.
Meek will also have one year of supervised release. Since he was out on bond for his charges, Meek will be allowed to self-report to prison.
"Joey has been sentenced and will be paying his debt to society," said Meek's attorney Deborah Barbier. "It is his hope that the spirit of forgiveness as demonstrated by the victims of the AME tragedy throughout this matter will be extended to him."
Roof was sentenced to death after being found guilty in the deaths of nine at Emanuel AME Church, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; and Myra Thompson, 59.
Meek says Roof told him the outlines of his plan as they drank vodka and snorted cocaine a week before the massacre.
Authorities say Meek told some friends about Roof's alleged plot and told them not to report it, which resulted in a misprision of a felony charge.
"Joey sincerely hopes that anyone who has a friend who is talking about hurting someone will take it seriously, learn from his mistake, and notify the proper authorities immediately," Barbier said.
Meek pleaded guilty but wasn't prosecuted for failing to report Roof's plans. Instead, it was ruled Meek would only be sentenced for what he did after the massacre.
During the sentencing hearing, Barbier called two witnesses to the stand, a correctional system analyst and a psychiatrist.
The analyst, James Aiken, worked in many facilities as a warden, among other positions. Aiken believes Meek poses low risk in prison, but may need to be put in solitary confinement for his safety, versus the general population.
Aiken said other inmates may attack Meek because of his connection to Roof's heinous crime.
Dr. Thomas Martin, a Psychiatrist in the Columbia and Charleston area, was also called to the stand. Meek contacted Martin roughly one week after he was arrested in 2015. Martin said since that time he has met with Meek for roughly 55 hours and diagnosed him with anxiety and depression.
Martin stated Meek has progressed very well in treatment over the last 15 to 17 months, and feels if he were to be placed in solitary confinement it would "create a backslide in therapeutic progress". He added Meek may be more dysfunctional coming out of prison.
Family and friends of Meeks did not speak in court today, however submitted letters to Gergel as impact statements.
Meanwhile, Meek apologized in court Tuesday.
"I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart. I'm sorry that this has all happened to such beautiful families," he read aloud in court.
The statement was part of a court document released to the public in February.
Meek went on to say, "If I was not to return to my family today and have to leave them, then I would feel hopeless. I wouldn't have a job anymore that I've had for the longest in my life. I don't know if I will make it out of prison alive and that scares me."
Meek became emotional while reading his statement, and family members, who sat in the back of the courtroom, could be heard sniffling.
"He has expressed to all the families of the victims of the brutal murders at the AME church his sincere remorse and sympathies for their losses," Barbier said. "He will always live with a great deal of sorrow and regret about these events."
The friends and families of the victims made no statements in court.
In a statement from United States Attorney Beth Drake she stated, "Meek's action in concealing Roof's involvement and his false statements to the FBI impacted law enforcement's efforts to capture and investigate Roof who had escaped with a loaded .45 Glock. Separate and apart form the murders, his actions are serious criminal violations."
"This sentence demonstrates the FBI's commitment to bring justice to all those who played a part in this horrific crime," said Alphonso Norris, FBI Special Agent in Charge. "This successful prosecution was the result of coordinated efforts with our state, local and federal partners. We are proud to be part of such a professional team that also obtained justice for the victims, families and communities that were forever changed by the cowardly acts of Dylann Roof and Joey Meek."
Over the next few weeks the Federal Bureau of Prisons will decide where Meek will serve his sentence and how he will be classified, meaning solitary confinement or general population.
Meek's attorney, Deborah Barbier, requested Meek serve his sentence at Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution near Augusta, Georgia, close to his family. The facility holds more than 1,800 inmates currently.