Fifteen-year-old Ohio teenager Bresha Meadows, who has spent the last 10 months in jail for killing her father, accepted a plea deal on Monday that will allow her to serve a truncated sentence in a treatment center. After a total of 18 months in custody, and barring any additional complications, Meadows will be free to go home.
On July 28, 2016, police responded to a shooting in Warren, Ohio. When they arrived, Meadow’s mother Brandi, explained that her daughter Bresha had shot her husband Jonathan Meadows in the head and killed him. Claiming that her husband had been abusing her and her children for years, Meadow’s mother said that the shooting had been self-defense. “I am so sorry she had to go through this,” said Brandi Meadows in August 2016 during an interview with Fox 8 Cleveland, “She is my hero. She helped me; she helped all of us so we could have a better life.” Because children over the age of 14 can be legally tried as adults in Ohio, it was unclear for several months whether Meadows would remain in juvenile detention or become the youngest member of the Ohio penitentiary system.
Although the accusations of domestic abuse were corroborated by several other family members, Meadows was charged with aggravated murder. University of Florida criminologist Kathleen Heide, who specializes in cases of patricide, testified on behalf of Meadows saying that the teen should be receiving mental health care, and not remain behind bars.
Ian Friedman, Meadow’s lawyer, said that the deal is the best possible outcome for the teen. As a condition of the plea agreement, Meadows was required to enter a plea of “true,” essentially an admission of guilt, de-escalating the charges against her to involuntary manslaughter. “This started with the potential of life without parole,” Friedman explained in an interview with NBC News. Now, Meadows’ case will be sealed when she turns 21 and she will enter adulthood without a criminal record. While the outcome for Meadows is a happy one, the case has cast new light on the system’s treatment of domestic abuse survivors and incarcerated children who are often penalized for acts of retaliation and self-defense.
Read the full story at NBC News.