A friend of the white man accused of shooting nine black churchgoers to death in Charleston is being investigated by federal authorities, an official said Wednesday.
A federal law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that a letter was sent last month telling Joey Meek he was under investigation for lying to law enforcement and misprision of a felony, which means authorities believe Meek knew about a crime before or after it was committed but didn't report it.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
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Meek has said Dylann Roof stayed with him in Lexington County before the June 17 shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The investigation was first reported by The State newspaper.
Roof faces nine counts of murder and other charges in state court in connection with the killings at the church. Roof also faces dozens of federal charges including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion.
The state has said it will seek the death penalty in the case. However, Roof's attorneys say he is willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
Separately, a judge said during a hearing Wednesday in Charleston that he will allow the release of some police documents and other evidence in connection with the shooting.
Judge J.C. Nicholson said he wanted to sit down with attorneys for the victims and the news media to review some of the more graphic evidence — including photographs of the crime scene — before deciding specifically what will be released. The judge also indicated the 911 calls could be released, but that there had been no decision whether it would be the tapes or simply transcripts.
Various news organizations, including The Associated Press, earlier had challenged Nicholson's order preventing attorneys from discussing the case and preventing the release of emergency calls, witness statements, coroner reports and other documents stemming from the June 17 shootings at Emanuel AME Church.
Attorneys for the victims' families say the material should not be released because doing so would violate the victims' rights to privacy.
The judge expressed concern earlier that the right to a fair trial for Roof.