Bresha Meadows (Facebook)

Updated Mon, May 8, 1:52 p.m. EDT: Bresha Meadows, 15, has been offered a plea deal and could be released from jail in less than a year. Read the details here.

Updated Sunday, May 7, 7:09 p.m. EDT: Although attorneys for Bresha Meadows, 15, argued that the teen is not a flight risk, Trumbull County Family Court Judge Pamela Rintala has ruled that Bresha should remain incarcerated until her trial.

Bresha stands accused of aggravated murder in the 2016 death of her father, Jonathan Meadows.

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As previously reported by The Root, Bresha’s mother, Brandi Meadows, and her aunt Martina Latessa have repeatedly said that Jonathan Meadows was a violent man who, for years, physically, psychologically and emotionally abused Bresha’s siblings and her mother.

Bresha’s attorney, Ian Friedman, released the following statement to WKCY.com:

While the judge has opted to keep Bresha detained until the fast approaching trial date, she has not touched on the release request should the state ask for more time to prepare their case. We will know tomorrow whether such a request is made. In any event, the defense is ready to go and is confident that a favorable result for Bresha will be secured in short time.

Judge Pamela Rintala (Trumbull County Family Court)

“Bresha has been diagnosed with PTSD, generalized anxiety and major depression,” Brad Wolfe, one of Bresha’s lawyers, said Thursday in an interview with The Root.

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“As we argued [during a hearing Wednesday], it is critical for Bresha to be released so that she can receive appropriate medical and mental treatment,” Wolfe continued.

Judge Rintala was scheduled to make the decision on May 8. According to WKCY.com, the pretrial hearing will go on as scheduled, and Rintala will decide if the trial will still begin on May 22.

Earlier:

On Monday, May 8, Trumbull County Family Court Judge Pamela Rintala will decide whether or not to release 15-year-old Bresha Meadows into her family’s custody while she awaits a May 22 trial on aggravated-murder charges in the 2016 death of her father, Jonathan Meadows.

As previously reported by The Root, Bresha was only 14 years old when she allegedly walked into her parents’ bedroom July 28, 2016, and killed her 41-year-old father with a .45-caliber, semi-automatic handgun—the same gun she and her family say he used to threaten them in the past.

Bresha has been locked away for 281 days in the Trumbull County, Ohio, Juvenile Detention Center.

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According to Bresha’s mother, Brandi Meadows, and her aunt Martina Latessa, Jonathan Meadows was a violent man who, for years, physically, psychologically and emotionally abused Bresha’s siblings and her mother.

Latessa, who is also a Cleveland police officer, contacted family services. A domestic violence protective order was filed against Jonathan Meadows in 2011.

“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,” Brandi Meadows wrote at the time. “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.”

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The restraining order was eventually dismissed when Bresha’s mother and father reconciled.

“She is my hero,” Brandi Meadows said of Bresha after the 2016 shooting. “I wasn’t strong enough to get out, and she helped us all.”

In October, Bresha was placed under suicide watch, and family and supporters remain concerned for her psychological and physical well-being.

“Bresha has been diagnosed with PTSD, generalized anxiety and major depression,” Brad Wolfe, one of Bresha’s lawyers, said Thursday in an interview with The Root.

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“As we argued [during a hearing Wednesday], it is critical for Bresha to be released so that she can receive appropriate medical and mental treatment,” Wolfe continued.

According to the site FreeBresha, more than 150 anti-violence and youth-advocacy organizations have called for Bresha’s release, including national anti-domestic violence organizations like the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community. (Click here to read the entire list of organizations supporting Bresha.)

“Prosecuting Bresha Meadows is just one more failure to support this young girl’s life,” said Sumayya Coleman from Women of Color Network Inc. “We are concerned for the well-being of Bresha and all child survivors of domestic violence, and urge prosecutors to proactively work with anti-violence organizations to develop alternatives to incarceration for young people who are in crisis and need our support.”

Bresha Meadows (GoFundMe)

“We are rising up to demand that Bresha, like all child survivors of domestic violence, needs community support, not further traumatization by prosecution and incarceration,” said Prentiss Haney, executive director of the Ohio Student Association.

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According to the 2015 report “Gender Justice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reform for Girls” (pdf), 84 percent of girls in the juvenile-detention system have experienced family violence; additionally, “[girls] in the justice system have experienced abuse, violence, adversity and deprivation across many of the domains of their lives—family, peers, intimate partners and community.”

National Crittenton Foundation

In a previous article on The Root, David J. Leonard, associate professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies at Washington State University, Pullman, cites the 1992 article “Abused Children Who Kill Abusive Parents”:

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Each year, several hundred children kill parents who spent years abusing them. Experiencing years of “physical, emotional or sexual abuse at the hands of parents” and a system that offers little assistance, they, “seeing no alternative, resort to self-help by killing the abusive parents.”

Though Wolfe didn’t speak specifically to the research that points to the disproportionate punitive actions (pdf) taken against black girls who have been victimized prior to being thrust into the juvenile-detention system, he was clear about the structural violence and neglect that Bresha has faced.

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“This case is about Bresha and the specific surrounding circumstances which she has had to endure,” Wolfe said. “It is an example of how the system failed her.”

Despite Bresha’s clearly fragile state and the fact that she has no history of violence, prosecutors argued during the hearing Wednesday that she posed a flight risk and should remain in custody until the May 22 trial.

“As a member of the #FreeBresha campaign, I am appalled that the prosecutors want to keep a traumatized 15-year-old in jail by claiming that she’s a flight risk,” Mariame Kaba, a member of Survived & Punished and founder of Project NIA, told The Root.

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“It is absurd and unconscionable,” Kaba continued. “The campaign has stood firm from day one calling for Bresha’s release from jail and that the charges against her be dropped. That remains the same.”

“Bresha should be free,” Kaba said. “Jail compounds her trauma. She should be free.”

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Although Bresha will not be tried as an adult, if found guilty of aggravated murder, she could still be incarcerated until she is 21 years old.

“We are working diligently to secure the most favorable outcome possible,” Wolfe said.

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In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, the character Sofia, after being abused by her husband, says, “All my life I had to fight ... I had to fight my daddy; I had to fight my uncles; I had to fight my brothers ... a girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.”

Sometimes, though, it just takes one man—one man to violate and terrorize his home.

“Like Bresha, an estimated 15.5 million children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence each year. Girls and women incarcerated for actions taken in self-defense are disproportionately black. Eighty-four percent of girls incarcerated in the U.S. experience family-based violence prior to being criminalized. Three women are killed per day in the U.S. by a current or former partner, and 75 percent of these women are killed within hours, days or weeks after attempting to escape the abuse. Bresha’s father was also five times more likely to kill his victims because he owned a gun. Criminalizing Bresha in this context sends a harmful message to survivors and their children—that even in the most desperate of situations, they will be punished instead of helped.” —Free Bresha Meadows Campaign

Jonathan Meadows is dead. He does not need our protection; nor is he worthy of any perverted justice. Death is but a moment, but the lifetime of pain that he caused his wife, his daughter and all those who love them lives on.

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Today a black girl sits in a cage, designated a criminal, deemed violent, unworthy of freedom and love and empathy, all because of a system that intentionally denies black girls their humanity—and a father who stripped her of the same.

Bresha Meadows is our daughter; she is our sister; she is us. She is every girl who has listened through thin walls as a man abuses her mother. She is every girl who has wished she could make it all stop.

What else could she have done? What else could she have done when all those around her were victims, too? What else could she have done when she was slowly dying on the inside, her scars either invisible or ignored?

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“She watched her father punch, kick and stomp her mother,” Ian Friedman, Bresha’s attorney, told the Huffington Post last year. “That, in and of itself, is traumatic. The kids witnessed their father’s drinking and drug use lead to escalated beatings that would, at times, end with their mother being unconscious.

“She lived a life that no child should,” Friedman continued. “She took the only step that she could, in her mind, to save her mother’s life and that of her siblings.”

She is just a girl. She should not have had to be a hero.

Bresha Meadows (Facebook)

Bresha’s family has set up a GoFundMe page for help with expenses. Wolfe and Friedman are litigating her case pro bono, but the family still needs help piecing their lives back together, which includes relocation expenses and payment for prior inpatient treatment.

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Judge Rintala will rule on Monday whether or not Bresha is able to go home to her family until her May 22 trial date. Until then, she continues to wait.

“On the whole, Bresha is optimistic,” Wolfe told The Root. “She is grateful for the support and hopes to be home soon.”