15-year-old Bresha Meadows was charged with aggravated murder with a gun specification in the 2016 shooting death of her 41-year-old father, Jonathan Meadows, in Warren, Ohio. The child pleaded “true”, the equivalent of “guilty” in adult court, to the reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. The charges were reduced as the two parties involved, Bresha’s defense attorneys and the family of Jonathan Meadows, came to an agreement on how to best handle the situation.
Bresha’s parents were both abusive and substance abusers and she had claimed that her father was sexually abusive as well. These factors aided in the reducing of the charges which resulted in Bresha’s sentence being a year in Juvenile corrections for the gun specification, as well as serving six months in a mental health facility at Shaker Heights.
The family of Jonathan Meadows called the sexual abuse claims to be “character assassination” and that Bresha’s father would have never done such a thing, adding that he would not even “spank” her. The sister of the victim said, “It’s not fair that they can say whatever they want to say and my brother’s not here to defend himself because we know that he did not sexually abuse his daughter. Personally, for my family, it’s not over. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions.”
Martina Latessa, a Cleveland police officer who specializes in domestic abuse said, “Bresha Meadows is a domestic violence survivor and I will say that forever. She is not a cold calculated killer. We don’t know if it will be six months (of mental health treatment) or if she needs more. We’re okay with that. Like the best thing is just to get Bresha Meadows back to the little girl she could have been and should have been.”
The statements made by the victim’s family were questionable as they kept changing and jeopardizing the case. “The things that they said that night right after it happened and what they’re saying now are two different things. What you have to understand is those were our witnesses. Those were the people that witnessed the shooting and now they’re changing their testimony. Had we gone to trial we would have had an opportunity to impeach our own witnesses and in doing that we would have added to the chance that the judge would have said I don’t believe anything they have to say and she could have just walked free altogether,” said the juvenile prosecutor.
Despite the grim circumstances, defense attorney Ian Friedman see’s this as a case that should set a precedent, “What this case stands for, and I hope that this case is used coast to coast, is when everybody slows down, they slow down and they say wait [for] a second, why did this child do this and more importantly what is the best way to help this child.”