Last summer, 14-year-old Bresha Meadows shot her father (a man named Jonathan Meadows) in the head while he lay in bed asleep, killing him in the early morning hours of July 28, 2016. Multiple family members soon came forward with accounts of the man’s history of extreme violence towards his family, supporting the girl’s claim that the act had been in the interest of long-term self-defense. This week, Bresha accepted a plea deal that will grant her freedom and a clean record as she enters adulthood.
According to a New York Times report, the teen pleaded “true” to having committed an act of involuntary manslaughter on Monday, a response which legally registers as equivalent to a guilty plea. While she had previously asserted innocence on the grounds of the defensive motives behind the attack, Meadows now accepting the terms of the new compromise will guarantee her a punishment significantly less crippling than would the charges she initially faced.
Less than one year ago, the young girl found herself sitting in a juvenile detention center in Warren, Ohio, directly staring down an aggravated murder charge in the immediate wake of her father’s demise. If tried as an adult, Meadows could have been sentenced to spending the remainder her life in prison. There she would be destined to live out the rest of her days never knowing what a free adult life was like.
The terms of this week’s agreement are significantly more merciful; after having already spent 10 months in Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center, she must endure just 60 days more in the same location. Under her newly updated legal conditions, she will now have access to external treatment all throughout those few months.
Once those 60 days are up, Meadows will then be transferred to the Bellefaire residential treatment center, where she is expected to receive consistent psychiatric care and monitoring for six additional months in a facility near where her family home is located.
The next step in Bresha’s journey will allow her to go home to her family, coming roughly one-and-a-half years after the fateful morning that left her father dead. Her plea deal requires that her first two years back at home be legally supervised according to Ian Friedman, her lawyer. After three years, the legal record of the incident could be eligible to be sealed. After five years, the girl will have the opportunity to scrub it from her history entirely, thus allowing her to begin adulthood with a clean slate.
The generous settlement came largely in response to the family’s consistent testimony and history with the law which had indicated Jonathan Meadows’ alleged tendency to commit domestic violence at multiple times throughout Bresha’s life.
According to the girl’s lawyer (as well as multiple family members), Bresha had run away to escape the violence twice in the past. The police were then forced to return the girl to her home, as no legal action could be taken to protect the then-suicidal child without testimony from her mother, Brandi Meadows.
Brandi had once filed a civil protection order against her husband though it was later dismissed at her request, a common occurrence in domestic situations which involve fear, violence, and intimidation.
“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. I believe my nose was broken,” she wrote. “If he finds us, I am 100 percent sure he will kill me and the children … My life is like living in a box he created for me, and if I stepped out of that box, he’s there to put me back in that box.”
Brandi has since called her daughter a “hero” for the steps the teenager took against her father.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]