Oct 22, 2015 4:50 PM

Bond lowered for friend of suspect in black church massacre

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) A federal magistrate on Thursday lowered bond for a man accused of failing to tell authorities all he knew about the suspect in the massacre of nine black people at a Charleston church last June.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Shiva Hodges lowered the bond for Joey Meek after his attorneys urged the judge to reduce his $100,000 bond set last month. His lawyers asked for the lower bond based on a pretrial report on Meek's finances and criminal history. Hodges set the new bond at $25,000.

Authorities say Meek lied and failed to report to law officers all he knew about Dylann Roof's plans to shoot parishioners at Emanuel AME Church.

His attorneys have argued that Meek's bond should be lowered because he has been in solitary confinement since his Sept. 17 arrest, is not a flight risk and has a limited, nonviolent criminal history. Meek is on probation, having pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing a stolen vehicle, according to Lexington County court records.

Meek, his attorneys and his family declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

Hodges said Meek will be under electronic monitoring and must stay with his grandparents. He will be under home detention except for church, education, employment and treatment. Meek must avoid all contact with the surviving victims as well as any potential witnesses, including his brothers and his girlfriend.

Experts have told The Associated Press that the charges against Meek may help prosecutors get him to testify about Roof's state of mind before the shootings occurred.

"By having a charge against him (Meek), they have more leverage with him to go ahead and make some sort of plea bargain: You testify. You tell us the truth, and we'll give consideration on the charges or penalty involved," long-time criminal defense attorney Jack Swerling said last month shortly after Meek was charged.

Meek hung out with Roof off and on in the weeks before the June 17 shooting. A day after the shooting, Meek told The Associated Press that Roof had drunkenly complained to him that "blacks were taking over the world" and "someone needed to do something about it for the white race."

Authorities say Meek knew more. In the indictment, prosecutors allege that he knowingly lied to an FBI agent when he said "that he did not know specifics of Dylann Roof's plan to shoot individuals on a Wednesday, during Bible Study, at an AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina."

The indictment does not specify how the government knows Meek was lying.

Meek, of Lexington, also said Roof told him that he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun. Meek said he took the gun away from Roof the night of his drunken rant but gave it back when he had sobered up.

The judge hearing state murder charges against Roof has issued an order reaffirming his trial will start next July 11. The order appoints a third attorney to help in Roof's defense.


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