Friend of accused church shooter wants sentencing delayed

AP News
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Posted: Jun 29, 2016 5:32 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A friend of the man accused of gunning down nine black parishioners during a Bible study in a South Carolina church wants to delay his own sentencing.

Joey Meek has pleaded guilty to lying to authorities and failing to report a crime regarding what he knew about Dylann Roof's violent plot.

An attorney for the 21-year-old requested the motion for delaying the sentence to be filed under seal, citing Meek's "medical issues."

Meek faces a possible prison sentence of eight years, though prosecutors say they'll argue for a shorter sentence if he's cooperative in their case against Roof.

At his plea hearing, Meek's attorney said her client had sought psychiatric treatment. As part of her delay motion, attorney Debbie Barbier said she plans to file a letter from a psychiatrist.

Meek pleaded guilty to charges that he knew for six months that Roof had been planning the attack on parishioners at Emanuel AME Church, that he had a gun and would carry extra ammunition in an attempt to start a race war.

Meek also said Roof told him he had planned to kill himself after the shootings.

According to federal prosecutors, Meek denied to the FBI in an initial interview having any knowledge about the mass shooting beforehand, but later changed his story.

Meek's plea marked the first conviction in a mass killing that stunned the nation, reignited discussions about race relations and led to the removal of a Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. Twenty-two-year-old Roof, who is charged with the slayings, had previously posed for photos with a Confederate battle flag.

He faces a possible death sentences if convicted in either federal or state court. His trials are set to begin in November.

Prosecutors have until July 5 to file their responses to the request to seal Barbier's delay request.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/