The Latest: Son of Victim: I don't understand why he did it

AP News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2016 3:06 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on a guilty plea by a friend of the man accused of gunning down nine black parishioners during a Bible study in a South Carolina church (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

The son of one of the victims of the 2015 Charleston church shootings says he just doesn't understand why the gunman did it.

Gary Washington is the son of Ethel Lance who was one of nine parishioners killed at Emanuel AME Church last June. Washington appeared before a federal judge Friday during a sentencing hearing for Joey Meek.

Meek who is a friend of the suspect, Dylann Roof, admitted he was told about Roof's plans for the shooting a week earlier and never notified authorities.

Washington, who is deaf and speaks through sign language, said through an interpreter that he saw his mother at the church on the day of the shootings, hugged her goodbye and told her to be careful.

He said he learned she had been killed that night when family members were gathered at a hotel not far from Emanuel.

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2:10 p.m.

An attorney for a friend of the white man accused of killing nine black church members last summer in Charleston says her client is remorseful for his role in the slayings.

Debbie Barbier told reporters Friday that her client, Joey Meek, hopes relatives of those slain will forgive him but understands they likely won't.

Barbier spoke with reporters after Meek pleaded guilty to two federal charges, including failing to tell authorities that Dylann Roof had told him what he planned to do.

Roof faces state and federal charges for the slayings last summer at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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1:55 p.m.

A key witness says the white man accused of killing nine black parishioners to death in Charleston last year planned the slaughter for more than six months and said he planned to kill himself after the shootings.

The detail emerged Friday during a hearing in federal court in Charleston as Joey Meek admitted lying to authorities and failure to report a crime.

Meek said Dylann Roof told him he had a gun and a fanny pack to carry extra ammunition, and that he intended to start a race war with the killings. Meek also said Roof told him he plan to commit suicide after the shooting.

Roof is charged with nine counts of murder in state court and with hate crimes and other charges in federal court.

The plea deal requires Meek help the government with its case against Roof, and he could get a break on his own possible eight-year sentence if he cooperates.

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1:45 p.m.

A friend of the white man accused of shooting nine black parishioners to death in Charleston has pleaded guilty to federal charges as part of a plea deal.

Joey Meek on Friday admitted lying to authorities and failure to report a crime during a hearing in federal court in Charleston.

Authorities have said Meek failed to tell investigators all he knew about Dylann Roof's plans to shoot nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church last June.

Roof is charged with nine counts of murder in state court and with hate crimes and other charges in federal court.

The plea deal requires Meek help the government with its case against Roof, and he could get a break on his own possible eight-year sentence if he cooperates.

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2:30 a.m.

A friend of the man accused of gunning down nine black parishioners during a Bible study in a South Carolina church is appearing before a judge to plead guilty to federal charges.

Under a plea agreement signed by 21-year-old Joey Meek and federal prosecutors, Meek will plead guilty to lying to authorities and failing to report a crime. He appears before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Friday in Charleston.

Authorities allege Meek failed to tell investigators all he knew about Dylann Roof's plans to shoot parishioners at Emanuel AME Church last June.

The 22-year-old Roof, who is white, is charged with hate crimes and other charges in federal court. He also faces nine counts of murder in state court in a death-penalty trial set for next January.