Joe Meek, 22, the friend of shooter Dylann Roof who massacred black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. He was convicted because he had not informed authorities of Roof’s plans in advance. He told the court on Tuesday when he was sentenced, "I don't know if I will make it out of prison alive. I'm scared."
 
Meek, of Lexington, South Carolina, told the court "I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart," he said tearfully. "(I) really wish I would have called the cops." There was no one to speak at the sentencing hearing from among Roof’s surviving victims or the families of victims. For his part, Roof has been found guilty of the killings and has received a death sentence on federal charges. Roof still faces a trial and probable death penalty on state charges.
 
Joseph Meek Jr.
 
Meek was also was sentenced to one year of supervised release. He requested that he be sent to the federal prison near his relatives Edgefield, South Carolina. He was arrested in September 2015 and charged with concealing and failing to report a crime, and lying to the FBI. He pleaded guilty in April, according to court records. He faced as many as eight years in prison.
 
Dylann Roof shot to death nine people, including the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17, 2015. Meek was not accused of having a direct role in the massacre. Federal prosecutors charged that Meek, however, informed family members and associates of the shooting on the night of the incident. He attempted to prevent them from coming forward.
 
Meek spoke to the media and investigators. He told CNN that he described Roof in a call to the FBI after the killings, and also gave them the license plate number of his car. To the media, he said that his friend had developed vague plans about inciting racial hatred and doing “something crazy.” 
 
Meek said that while he had not taken Roof’s threats seriously, he did hide his friend’s gun on the night he heard the plot. However, he replaced it later. Prosecutors alleged that Meek told the FBI 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." The prosecutors alleged, however, that "Meek's statements and representations denying such specifics were false, fictitious and fraudulent when made." Meek was charged with failing to notify authorities of any information he had regarding the shooting "as soon as possible."
 
Attorney Deborah Barbier, who represented Meek, said on Tuesday that he “has expressed to all of the families of the victims of the brutal murders at the AME church his sincere remorse and sympathies for their losses." She said, "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." 
 
Meek and Roof had been become friends while in their pre-teen years but had lost touch in recent years. Meek said that Roof’s behavior in the months before the shooting was scary. 
 
Dylann Roof
 
In a similar case of alleged aid given to a murderer, Noor Salman --the wife of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen -- is facing federal charges of  "Aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist and Obstruction of Justice," said Orlando Police Chief John Mina in a statement in January.
 
Mateen murdered 49 people on June 12, 2016, at the Pulse nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He was killed in a firefight with police. Mateen was a Muslim, and the mayhem he caused has been labeled an act of terror.
 
Salman moved to the San Francisco area after her husband's death. She told the New York Times in November, "I was unaware of everything." She said, "I don't condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people." Linda Moreno, Salman's attorney released a statement that her client was unaware of Mateen's plans. Moreno pointed out that Salman claimed to have been abused by Mateen. "We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person." 
 
On March 10,a  federal judge in Orlando revoked bond for Salman. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron reversed the decision of a magistrate in Oakland, California, to release Salman on $500,000 bond and ordered her jailed pending trial.  After receiving a request from prosecutors,  Judge Byron determined that Salman had not overcome a legal presumption that she was a flight risk or a danger to the community. During deliberations over her bond, Salman had remained in jail. 
 
At the last of several hearings in Oakland, Calfiornia, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu claimed that it was "debatable" whether federal prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict Salman and ordered her released from jail until trial. Prosecutors claim that Salman accompanied Mateen when he went to locations for potential terrorist attacks, and also knew ahead of time that he was planning the attack. She is also alleged to have misled FBI agents about what she knew about her husband's plans. 
 
Ryu ordered that Salman undergo psychiatric evaluation. The doctor concluded that Salman suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and may also exhibit a high probability of intellectual impairment. The judge also claimed that Salman was not read her Miranda rights before she was interviewed by the FBI for 16 hours after the massacre. Miranda warnings inform arrestees of their rights to remain silent and have an attorney. 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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