A 15-year-old Ohio teenager who shot and killed her allegedly abusive father will avoid the possibility of a life sentence after prosecutors decided Thursday to try her for murder as a juvenile, not an adult.
On July 28, Bresha Meadows, who was 14 at the time, shot and killed her father, 41-year-old Jonathan Meadows, with his own gun. She was arrested and charged with aggravated murder. Her mother, Brandi Meadows, called her daughter a “hero” for killing the man she said abused her and other family members.
“She is my hero,” Brandi Meadows told Fox 8. “I wasn’t strong enough to get out and she helped us all.”
After she was charged, Meadows was taken to Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center in Warren, Ohio, where she has been held since the shooting. She pleaded “not true” (the equivalent of not guilty in juvenile court) and has waited months to learn whether or not the prosecution would seek to try the case in adult court where she could face life in prison.
After her daughter's arrest, Brandi Meadows told the media that her husband’s abuse had landed her in the hospital or an outpatient facility 15 to 20 times over the span of two decades.
Meadows' aunt, Martina Latessa, a Cleveland police detective, said that two months prior to the shooting Meadows ran away from home “because her father was beating her mother and threatening to kill the whole family.”
Family members of the victim have denied that he was abusive.
On Thursday, Trumbull County prosecutors informed Meadows’ attorney that they intend to keep the case in juvenile court, ending the speculation that Meadows would risk a life sentence at trial.
Meadows’ attorney Ian Friedman spoke to BuzzFeed News after learning of the decision, saying it “eliminated that grave concern that she'll never go home again” and called it “a good day.”
Now, if convicted, the most severe sentence she could face will be incarceration until age 21.
Friedman said he was “grateful” to the prosecution for their decision, but said it “doesn’t change their theory on the case” that Meadows is not guilty of murder.
He said that they intend to file a motion with the court to have her released pending trial. "We're obviously going to try to get her home immediately," he said.
A status hearing is scheduled for the case in juvenile court on Jan. 20, 2017.