The one person with whom Dylann Roof, a 22-year-old white supremacist who stormed a church in South Carolina in 2015 to instigate a "race war," was sentenced on Tuesday to 27 months imprisonment for failing to report a crime and for lying to the FBI, according to the Associated Press.
Unlike Roof, who was sentenced to death in January 2017 for shooting 9 people, Joey Meek cried at his sentencing hearing before the same federal judge who presided over Roof's case.
I'm really, really sorry. A lot of beautiful lives were taken
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he hoped the sentence would act as a deterrent for those future silent bystanders. He also said that Meek was fortunate that another massacre didn't happen because of the delay in identifying Roof.
According to Meek, he learned of Roof's plan to shoot blacks at the historic African American church in Charleston about one week before the June 2015 attack had taken place. He said Roof shared his plan when they drank vodka, snorted cocaine, smoked marijuana and played video games at his house one night.
His sentencing comes after Meek signed a deal with prosecutors in 2016 in which he agreed to plead guilty to lying to law enforcement and failing to report a crime. Prosecutors said Meek had lied to the FBI by first denying Roof shared his plan. They also said he stopped a friend from calling the police after hearing about the shooting to report Roof as a suspect.
Meek's lawyer, Deborah Barbier, said it was unfair to for prosecutors to ask for a stiffer sentence than what was recommended to demonstrate the seriously of the crime that Meek could have prevented if he'd picked up the phone. She added that the U.S. government shares the burden of not stopping the shooting by failing to finish a background check when he purchased the gun used in the killings.
"This allegation ignores the Government's own failures in allowing Roof to buy and possess a handgun with pending drug charge," Barbier wrote previously in asking Gergel not to give Meek a longer sentence than the guidelines call for.
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