By Ed Runyan
Bresha Meadows, who killed her father with a gunshot to the head as he slept in the family home on Hunter Street Northwest, will spend two more months in juvenile detention.
She will spend six months after that at the Cleveland child-service agency Bellfaire JCB, where she will receive mental-health treatment.
She will be free to return home if she completes these last eight months successfully and Trumbull County Children Services deems her home to be an acceptable place for her to live, Trumbull County Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Rintala said.
Bresha, 15, pleaded guilty Monday in juvenile court to the reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter in the July 28, 2016, death of Jonathan Meadows Sr., 41.
Stanley Elkins, assistant county prosecutor, for the first time spoke about the facts of the case after Bresha’s sentencing. Elkins said the most troubling part is that the comments made by the people in the home July 28 “and what they are saying now are two different things.”
Bresha, 14 at the time of the killing, was charged with aggravated murder and has been locked up in juvenile detention since just after the death.
“Those are the people who witnessed the shooting, and now they are changing their testimony,” Elkins said of Meadows family members.
Elkins said the danger for prosecutors is that if the case had gone to trial, Bresha “could have just walked free altogether. It [taking the case to trial] was a hard decision. It was a decision I understand the family [of Jonathan Meadows Sr.] didn’t like. They understood it, though.”
Elkins said the truth of what happened “we’ll never know. Jonathan Meadows is deceased. We’ll never know his side of the story.”
One example of the changing stories is that family members in recent months have said Jonathan Meadows Sr. was abusive toward Bresha. But, “we have statements from them that night – he never even spanked her.”
Further, family members told a Warren detective July 28 that the guns in the house were in the name of Bresha’s mother, Brandi, because Jonathan Sr. was a “convicted felon,” but that was false, Elkins said, adding prosecutors found evidence of only one misdemeanor conviction in the Cleveland area.
During the hearing, a witness hired by the defense, Dr. Kathleen Heide of Florida, gave a 45-minute presentation in which she talked about the interview she had with Bresha on Saturday. Heide talked about “corroborative evidence of domestic violence” she found in the Meadows home and indications of the sexual abuse of Bresha.
She said Bresha’s parents were “not there” because of substance abuse. She said the fact that Bresha doesn’t remember pulling the trigger is “classical disassociation.”
Jonathan Meadows Sr.’s sister, Lena Cooper of Nashville, spoke up during a break in the last hearing May 8, saying reports that allegations her brother was abusive are false and that the reason Bresha killed him is because he had restricted her privileges after he had caught her having inappropriate relations with male teens.
Cooper also gave a victim-impact statement at Monday’s hearing, saying members of Jonathan Meadows Sr.’s family wanted to see the case go to trial.
“We honestly don’t believe our niece acted alone. We do feel other members of the family were involved, and it’s very hard for us to accept the deal that has been set,” she said.
She added, “It’s hard to see all of this played out in the media because our brother was the victim. He was not the monster that he was portrayed in the media.”
Elkins has told the media throughout the case he could not talk about the facts while it was pending. But he said Monday he would have liked the judge to issue a gag order to prevent Bresha’s attorney, Ian Friedman, from discussing it in the media.
“We had to keep our mouth shut,” Elkins said. “They put out a lot of misinformation all during this that the public has taken as fact that actually wasn’t fact. Had we gone to trial, we would have run the risk of ‘What’s the truth?’
“The reason we made this deal is the best interest of the community and, also, juvenile court goes for treatment first.”
He added that the treatment Bresha will get at Bellfaire is similar to the treatment she would have gotten through the Ohio Department of Youth Services if she’d been convicted of murder.