Man to plead guilty to hiding friend's US church shooting plan

Friend of Church Shooting Suspect Pleads Guilty

CHARLESTON, S.C., April 25 (Reuters) - A South Carolina man will plead guilty to federal charges he lied to investigators and concealed knowledge of his friend's plans for a deadly mass shooting that killed nine parishioners at a Charleston church last year, court papers showed on Monday.

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Joseph Meek, 21, will plead guilty to two charges, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court. He was indicted for lying to an FBI agent after his childhood friend, 22-year-old Dylann Roof, allegedly opened fire during a June 17 Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.

An attorney for Meek and federal prosecutors declined to comment.

See photos from the case:

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Charleston SC shooting suspect. Dylann Roof
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Man to plead guilty to hiding friend's US church shooting plan
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Photo via Charleston Police Department)
The Emanuel AME Church is viewed behind a police vehicle on June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holds up a tape in front of the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A view ofthe Emanuel AME Church is seen June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Court documents show Meek has agreed to cooperate with U.S. attorneys. He could be called to testify at Roof's trial to his knowledge of his friend's alleged crimes.

A hearing to change his plea is scheduled for Friday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. If a judge accepts the deal, Meek would avoid a trial that was set to start in late June.

Meek faces a maximum of eight years in prison, four years of supervised release and more than $500,000 in fines on the two counts.

Roof faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes, obstruction of religion and firearms offenses. Authorities have said evidence showed he had white supremacist views and that he targeted the victims because of their race.

Both Roof and Meek are white. The victims of the church shooting were black.

Roof's federal trial has been delayed repeatedly while U.S. prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty. Defense attorneys have said Roof will plead guilty if he does not face the possibility of execution.

South Carolina prosecutors have also charged him with nine counts of murder, as well as with attempting to murder three people who survived the rampage, and he faces the death penalty. (Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins and Letitia Stein; Editing by Chris Reese, Cynthia Osterman and David Gregorio)

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