By Ed Runyan
Ian Friedman, attorney for Bresha Meadows, told Judge Pamela Rintala of Trumbull County Juvenile Court that Bresha, 15, should be allowed to leave juvenile detention pending her trial, scheduled for May 22.
She’s been in detention since shortly after the death of her father, Jonathan Meadows Sr., 41, July 28, 2016, at their home on Hunter Street Northwest. She’s charged with aggravated murder in his death.
Friedman said Wednesday that Bresha could be released to her aunt, a Cleveland police officer, and she could be placed on electronically monitored house arrest with a requirement that she be in the presence of an adult at all times.
Judge Rintala is expected to rule on the request for Bresha’s release Monday at another pretrial hearing.
Friedman told Judge Rintala that Bresha needs mental-health treatment that she cannot get in the juvenile detention center.
Bresha’s family hired Sandra McPherson, professor emeritus of the school of psychology at Fielding Graduate University, to assess Bresha’s mental health. The assessment showed that she has mental-health issues that need to be treated, Friedman said. It would be too expensive to bring treatment professionals to the detention center, he said.
“There is nothing about her conduct while she’s been detained to suggest she’s a danger to anyone else,” Friedman said.
But Stanley Elkins, assistant county prosecutor, said Friedman’s remarks are based on the presumption that Bresha’s actions the day of the homicide were the result of abuse by her father. Friedman and members of Bresha’s family have told reporters that Jonathan Meadows Sr.’s abusiveness led to his killing.
“There is no evidence of that,” Elkins said of Jonathan Meadows being abusive.
Court records indicate Jonathan Meadows had no criminal record. But Bresha’s mother, Brandi Meadows, alleged in 2011 documents filed in family court that Jonathan Meadows Sr. was extremely controlling and abusive.
“In the 17 years of our marriage, he has cut me, broke my ribs, fingers, the blood vessels in my hand, my mouth, blackened my eyes,” Brandi Meadows wrote in asking for the protection order.
Elkins said he has spoken with a representative of Valley Counseling of Warren who said additional evaluation and treatment could be provided to Bresha in the detention center.
After opening statements from the attorneys, McPherson testified, but the news media and other members of the public were required to leave because of protected medical information that would be discussed.
During a break in the hearing, Lena Cooper of Nashville, sister of Jonathan Meadows Sr., spoke at length about the repeated claims by Bresha’s mother and aunt that he was abusive.
Cooper showed reporters pictures of the Meadows family together having a good time and talked about Bresha spending lots of time with older teens in ways that were inappriate for a girl 13 or 14 years old.
“My niece was out of control. I did not say it before because we were waiting for the trial, but the trial keeps getting delayed. My brother tried to save her from herself, but now he’s dead.”
She said Jonathan “loved his children,” and it’s hard to read so many news accounts “calling my brother a monster. My brother was not a monster. He had the same job for 19 years. He did not do all these things they are saying that he did.”
Cooper said Jonathan Meadows Sr. was “trying to protect his daughter” after he caught Bresha at home engaging in sexual conduct with a boy. “And that’s when he took away privileges. He didn’t beat her. He didn’t abuse her.”
Also testifying was a representative from a company that would provide electronic monotoring if Bresha were released.
Friedman said he learned Wednesday that the May 22 trial date may have to be moved back because prosecutors have said they may want to hire an expert witness.