Bond reduced for friend of Charleston shooting suspect

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2015 6:22 PM

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - A judge on Thursday reduced the bail for a South Carolina man charged with lying to investigators and concealing knowledge about a massacre allegedly carried out by his friend, who is accused of gunning down nine black churchgoers in Charleston.

Bond for Joseph Meek, 21, was reduced to $25,000 from $100,000.

A federal grand jury indicted Meek for lying to an FBI agent after his childhood friend, Dylann Roof, allegedly opened fire during a June 17 Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.

Meek, who pleaded not guilty, was arrested Sept. 17 and has been held at the Lexington County Detention Center in solitary confinement.

In reducing his bond, U.S. Magistrate Judge Shiva Hodges said Meek must live with his grandparents under home detention and electronic monitoring, according to court documents.

She barred Meek from contacting his brothers or girlfriend, or from obtaining a passport. The judge also ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and participate in a medical treatment program.

Meek had given Roof a place to stay at his home in Lexington, South Carolina, in the weeks before the killings, according to newspaper reports.

Meek has said he knew Roof had purchased a handgun, but told reporters he dismissed his friend's racist comments as drunken bluster. Both Meek and Roof are white.

In asking for reduced bond, defense attorneys argued that Meek had strong family ties to the community and was not a flight risk, according to court documents.

Roof, also 21, faces 33 federal hate crime and firearms charges, along with state murder charges. State prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Letitia Stein and Eric Beech)