Girl, 15, charged with killing father, won’t be detained past age 21
By Ed Runyan
Bresha Meadows case
Martina Latessa of Cleveland, aunt of Bresha Meadows, talks about Bresha,
the attention her case has gotten nationally and the discussion about
domestic violence that has taken place as a result of the case.
Bresha Meadows and her supporters got another victory Friday as prosecutors dropped a Serious Youthful Offender specification that would have left her eligible for sanctions past age 21.
Bresha, 15, is charged with aggravated murder in the early July 28, 2016, shooting death of her father at their home on Hunter Street Northwest.
A long pretrial hearing was conducted mostly in chambers, but Judge Pamela Rintala said prosecutors are dropping that specification. She also set May 22 as the start date for her trial, if a trial becomes necessary.
“The Serious Youthful Offender specification is not going to be utilized,” Bresha’s attorney, Ian Friedman, explained. “What that means is this will be handled solely as a juvenile matter. It will not be handled, it cannot be sanctioned, as an adult offense should a sanction be imposed.”
It means Bresha cannot be detained past age 21, Friedman said. A few months ago, Bresha and her supporters learned prosecutors would not seek to try her as an adult, another victory, because adult sanctions could have included a life prison sentence.
Friedman said the main purpose of Bresha’s stay at an undisclosed treatment “campus” is “for evaluation and treatment.”
He said the kind of information he hopes to attain from mental health experts is the “why” of Bresha’s killing of her father, Jonathan Meadows Sr., 41. “She needs to go to a facility to get to the bottom of that,” he said.
It’s not the same thing as an evaluation to determine whether she’s competent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity, Friedman said.
About 3 a.m. the day of the homicide, Brandi Meadows, Bresha’s mother, called 911 and reported that Bresha had shot her father in the head. He was dead at the scene, Warren police Capt. Robert Massucci said.
Friedman said earlier that Bresha’s life was an “unimaginable nightmare” while living with her father. Members of Jonathan Meadows’ family say he was not abusive; he had no police record.
Brandi Meadows, who visits Bresha twice per week, said she is hoping Bresha can be placed in a “treatment facility so she can start healing. She’s got a lot going on in her head.”
Brandi said Bresha rescued her and the rest of the family by killing Jonathan. “She took me out of the box he put me in,” she said of her husband.
Brandi Meadows received a protection order in family court in July 2011 against Jonathan Meadows, saying he threatened to kill her and the children if he found out she was cheating on him, according to documents obtained by The Vindicator.
Martina Latessa, Bresha’s aunt and a Cleveland police officer, said she has told Bresha about the reporters from People magazine, HBO series “VICE” and the Huffington Post covering the story. “It’s great that people are talking about domestic violence, and they are talking about women’s rights and survival.”
She added: “We have to have more support where [domestic-violence victims] can reach out and get that help they need, so this does not need to happen. This is a tough process she is going through.”
Friedman said he has spoken with a lot of people across the country and in other countries about the case because of the amount of attention it has garnered.
“She was 14 years old at the time, and we know that these things don’t happen without a reason, so people want to make sure that a 14-year-old girl is not going to get processed through the system. They want to know that she’s going to get a fair trial, a fair process. She is,” Friedman said.
Bresha stood before Judge Rintala during a brief hearing in the courtroom, as news media were allowed to photograph and film her only from behind.
A large number of Bresha’s mother’s family filled one side of the courtroom seating. A handful of Jonathan Meadows’ family members sat on the other side of the aisle, and court officials prohibited news media from photographing them.