On the eve of sentencing for the man charged with withholding information related to Dylann Roof’s attack at Emanuel AME Church, a federal judge has postponed the court proceedings for Joey Meek indefinitely.
Meek, a childhood friend of Roof who spent time with the gunman leading up to his attack, offered to plead guilty to charges of concealing knowledge of a crime and willfully making false statements to FBI investigators following the shooting at Mother Emanuel. The charges carry a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a fine up to $500,000, but a plea agreement filed last April stated that Meek could receive a reduced sentence for cooperating with the government in another investigation.
The murders at Emanuel AME took place one week after Meek heard Roof talk of killing African Americans and starting a “race war.” According to court documents, Meek did not immediately contact police upon learning of the shooting in Charleston and asked his friends to do the same.
“The night I heard the things Dylann was saying I didn’t pay much attention to it because we were both drinking and high on drugs,” Meek said. “I didn’t believe he could do something so awful and cruel.”
Meek did not testify during Roof’s federal trial that ended with the avowed white supremacist receiving the death sentence. Earlier this week, federal prosecutors filed a motion signaling plans to seek a longer sentence. In response to this move from the prosecution, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has delayed the sentencing hearing for Meek, which was scheduled for this week.
On Tuesday, Judge Gergel also unsealed court documents including descriptions of Meek’s personal history, mental health evaluations, and letters Meek had written to the victims’ families directly affected by Roof’s crime. Those records, filed by Meek’s attorney, describe the 22-year-old as the product of a broken home, a witness to domestic violence, and victim of abuse.
“Both his biological father and step-father abused Joey, his brothers, and his mother,” wrote Meek’s attorney. “One of Joey’s most vivid childhood memories is that of picture day in middle school. He arrived at school distraught and embarrassed by the red marks on his neck from his step-father choking him the night before.”
Meek wrote letters to the families of each of the Emanuel AME worshippers his friend Dylann Roof shot and killed.
Court filings also claim that Meek has a confirmed history of mental health issues, ranging from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder. According to his attorney, Meek has received treatment from a forensic psychiatrist throughout his court proceedings. Due to Meek’s alleged mental health concerns and possible danger he may face in prison, his attorney has requested that Meek be considered for Charleston’s Turning Leaf Program — a rehabilitation and reentry nonprofit organization that assists convicted criminals with employment and education.
Among the recently unsealed documents are handwritten letters from Meek addressed to the survivors of the shooting and family members of those murdered at Mother Emanuel. In a note to the family of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Meek wrote, “I’m sorry for any part that I play in this terrible act of violence. Throughout this entire situation, I have been able to find peace through God at the First Baptist of Lexington. I pray for your family every day in the hope that God gives you the peace you need.”
Meek ends the letter much as he does the others, writing, “I ask for your forgiveness, but I don’t expect it.”