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Courts & Trials

Ohio Teen Who Shot Dad in the Head to Allegedly Escape His Abuse Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charge

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The controversial case of Ohio teen Bresha Meadows, who fatally shot her father in the head last year to end what she claimed was his years-long abuse, has come to a close.

In a deal with prosecutors, Bresha, now 15 years old, pleaded guilty on Monday to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a year and one day in juvenile detention, six additional months in a private mental health facility and two years’ probation.

Since Bresha has been behind bars for nine months, her lawyer tells PEOPLE, she will only serve two more months in juvenile detention before being moved to the treatment facility.

The judge also agreed that when she turns 21, Bresha’s conviction will be expunged from her record.

She had been charged in family court with one count of murder in the July 2016 death of her 41-year-old father, Jonathan Meadows, to which she had pleaded “not true,” the family court equivalent of not guilty.

“[Bresha] is going to have a fresh start on her life [after spending] her entire life watching and being subjected to abuse,” her attorney, Ian Friedman, tells PEOPLE. “We’re all very pleased that she’s going to get the gift of a second chance, like all of us deserve to do.”

“She feels so relieved, she really does,” he said soon after the plea was entered. He said it was “the first time I’ve seen her smile, really smile and feel a little bit of optimism.”

Bresha Meadows (right) with her family
Martina Latessa

Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment following Monday’s plea, which also raised the ire of Jonathan’s relatives, who have said he is being wrongfully described as abusive.

Friedman says Bresha and her family are “ecstatic” that she will receive treatment. At one point, she faced the possibility she would be tried as an adult, with a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.

“It’s surreal,” Martina Latessa, Bresha’s maternal aunt, tells PEOPLE. “From life in prison to this, it is a victory.”

PEOPLE does not generally identify juveniles accused of crimes. In this case, Bresha’s family chose to go public.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter. 

Bresha Meadows
GoFundMe
Bresha Meadows (center) with her family, including her father, Jonathan Meadows (back row)
Martina Latessa

According to police, Bresha shot her father in the head with his own gun at their home in Trumbull County, Ohio, early on July 28. She was 14 years old.

Earlier this month, Friedman said in court that Bresha had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression as a result of her father’s alleged abuse.

Bresha and her siblings were not physically abused by their father, her family previously alleged to PEOPLE, but they were allegedly subjected to verbal and emotional abuse — and also witnessed their mother be physically abused.

Friedman tells PEOPLE that Bresha was able to remain positive and receive the sentence she did thanks to social media and other public attention.

“I’ve not seen anything like this, where you had the subject of the prosecution being so sympathetic, where people rallied around her,” he says. “[Usually,] it’s the other way around — where they see the deceased as the victim, and here this wasn’t the case. So the social media and the outpour of support was just amazing.”

From the beginning, Bresha’s case created national headlines. Soon after she was arrested, her mother hailed her as a hero, saying she saved them from a lifetime of abuse.

However, Jonathan Meadows’ family denied the abuse accusations and told PEOPLE he was a “family man.”

“They’re trying to paint a picture [of him] as a villain of some sort, and to me the true story is not being told about my brother,” Michael Meadows, Jonathan’s older brother, told PEOPLE last year.

Michael says his family attended the hearing on Monday and was angry with the plea.

“We wanted to go court, we wanted to go to trial,” Michael says. “[That’s] when everything would come out. There’s a whole lot more twist and turns to this thing.”

“Johnny wasn’t a perfect man and he had his faults, but he wasn’t the monster that he is being portrayed as,” Jonathan’s sister-in-law Jackie Meadows previously told PEOPLE. “He was just trying to raise his family through hard times like everyone else.”

Bresha will be receiving treatment at a private facility paid for by money raised by her family’s GoFundMe.

“Where this began and where its ended you are two different places,” Friedman says, “and where it is is certainly in the best interest of this young lady.”