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Friend of convicted church shooter begins serving sentence

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A friend with whom convicted church shooter Dylann Roof shared his plans to massacre South Carolina churchgoers has begun serving more than two years in prison for lying to federal authorities.

Joey Meek reported to Elkton Federal Correction Institution in Lisbon, Ohio, on Tuesday, attorney Debbie Barbier told The Associated Press on Friday. Elkton is a low-security facility with just over 2,300 inmates about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of Cleveland, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Prosecutors have said that Roof told Meek, 22, during a night of vodka, cocaine, marijuana and video games that he was planning to kill black people at a Charleston church during an evening Bible study.

Meek told authorities he thought his childhood friend was all talk until a week later, when news broke of a deadly shooting rampage at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. But instead of calling authorities, Meek talked another friend out of going to police and giving them Roof’s name, and then lied to the FBI about his conversation with Roof.

Meek was not charged for failing to tell police about the impending attack since that is not a crime under federal law. Instead, he was prosecuted for stopping a friend immediately after the slaughter from calling the police to report Roof as a suspect, actions a judge said delayed Roof’s capture for hours, during which Roof easily could have killed more people somewhere else.

Roof, 23, was convicted on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes, and sentenced to death earlier this year. A plea deal on state murder charges in exchange for life sentences wrapped up the prosecutions against him, and he was transferred to federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana, last week.

Unlike Roof, a self-avowed white supremacist who told jurors in his closing argument he still felt he had to carry out the slaughter, Meek showed remorse for his crimes, sending each victim’s family a handwritten letter of apology and pointing out traits he admired in their loved ones. Meek cried last month as he told a sentencing judge he feared retribution behind bars from people angry with Roof.

“I don’t know if I’ll make it out of prison alive,” Meek said. “I’m scared.”

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard.

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