Bresha Meadows accepts plea to reduced charges in death of her f - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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Bresha Meadows accepts plea to reduced charges in death of her father

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Bresha Meadows Bresha Meadows
WARREN, Ohio -

It's a case that has captured international attention with a "Free Bresha" campaign.

Now a plea deal has been reached in the case of the Warren teen who shot and killed her father as he slept.

Bresha Meadows pled "true" to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter, the equivalent of pleading guilty in adult court.

Meadows was originally charged with aggravated murder with a gun specification for the 2016 death of her father 41-year-old Jonathan Meadows.

The shooting happened at the family's Warren home.

Monday's plea agreement will no doubt make the Meadows' case legally precedent setting.

Meadows, who is now 15-years-old, was sentenced by Trumbull County Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Rintala to serve one year and one day in the juvenile detention center on the gun specification.  She was also ordered to serve six months at an in-patient mental health facility in Shaker Heights.

The teen will receive credit for time served and could be back home with her family by the end of January.

Meadows cried as the defense told the judge, "Bresha grew up in an environment where every adult failed her."

Dr. Kathleen Heide, a criminologist who has published four books on parricide offenders (children who kill their parents), recently met with Bresha and found supporting evidence. She says that the girls' father used alcohol and drugs and her mother abused alcohol and marijuana.

The 15-year-old told her attorney when he met her for the first time that she remembered her finger on the trigger the night her father was shot and killed, but she doesn't recall firing the gun.

Her family is relieved the case didn't go to trial and the teen's aunt. Martina Latessa a Cleveland police officer who works domestic violence cases, tells 21 News, "Bresha Meadows is a domestic violence survivor and I will say that forever.  She is not a cold calculated killer.  We don't know if it will be six months (of mental health treatment) or if she needs more.  We're okay with that.  Like the best thing is just to get Bresha Meadows back to the little girl she could have been and should have been."

But the family of Jonathan Meadows feels as if someone got away with murder.  

His sister calls allegations of domestic violence against the shooting victim "character assassination." 

Lena Cooper is the victim's sister, "It's not fair that they can say whatever they want to say and my brother's not here to defend himself because we know that he did not sexually abuse his daughter.  Personally, for my family, it's not over.  There's still a lot of unanswered questions."

Prosecutors say this is the first time they are even hearing about allegations of sexual abuse against the teenager who fidgetted as she prepared to be sentenced.

Stanley Elkins, who is the juvenile prosecutor, says they had no choice but to cut a deal in the case because Bresha's family members kept changing their story.

"The things that they said that night right after it happened and what they're saying now are two different things.  What you have to understand is those were our witnesses.  Those were the people that witnessed the shooting and now they're changing their testimony.  Had we gone to trial we would have had an opportunity to impeach our own witnesses and in doing that we would have added to the chance that the judge would have said I don't believe anything they have to say and she could have just walked free altogether," Elkins said.

The prosecutor also accused the family of putting out a lot of misinformation during the legal process that the public believed as fact when in reality it was not fact he said.

"One of the things that they said is that he abused Bresha, and we have statements from them that night that he never even spanked her.  You know they made statements that the guns were in Brandi's name (the victim's wife) because he was a convicted felon.  He is not a convicted felon."

But the defense argues this case has taken the best course, ending in treatment for a child he believes saw no way out.

Defense Attorney Ian Friedman believes Bresha's case will be a model for other children charged in similar cases.

"What this case stands for, and I hope that this case is used coast to coast, is when everybody slows down, they slow down and they say wait a second, why did this child do this and more importantly what is the best way to help this child,"  Friedman said.

When the prosecutor was asked if he believed she lived in an abusive home Elkins said, "We'll never know the truth."

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