Bresha Meadows is charged with one count of murder for her alleged role in the death of her 41-year-old father, Jonathan Meadows, according to her arrest report. She is accused of shooting him in the head with his own gun at the family’s home early July 28, police said.
But Bresha’s mom has called her a “hero,” telling local media her daughter’s alleged actions ended the years of physical abuse she was forced to suffer at her own husband’s hands. (It was Bresha’s mom who first called 911, records show.)
“She is my hero. I wasn’t strong enough to get out and she helped me,” Brandi Meadows told Fox 8 in Cleveland. “I am so sorry she had to go through this. She is my hero.”
Bresha “helped me,” Brandi told Fox 8. “She helped all of us so we could have a better life.”
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Bresha’s attorney, Ian Friedman, tells PEOPLE she “lived in a perpetual state of fear for her mother, her siblings and herself.”
He told Fox 8 she was both allegedly abused for years by her father and witnessed her father allegedly abusing her mother.
“It was a situation, thankfully, that very few of us can even imagine,” Friedman says. “In this case, the facts will show that this young lady had no choice in her mind but to defend her mother and her family. She felt that if this would have continued that her mom would be the one who was dead.”
Friedman says he will provide Trumbull County prosecutors with witness statements as well as medical records to establish a pattern of abuse against Bresha’s mother and siblings.
“I am hoping the prosecution will be able to fully appreciate what was going on in this home,” he says. “This really was a justifiable case of self-defense.”
Martina Latessa, Bresha’s aunt, tells PEOPLE that Jonathan controlled every part of his family’s life.
“He kept them in a box,” Latessa says. “For her to point the gun at her father and pull the trigger, it was extremely powerful. Every single wall in [Bresha’s] life was collapsing in that moment.”
Prosecutor Stanley Elkins tells PEOPLE that investigators have been unable to confirm Bresha’s claims that her father was abusive. But he says they are open to any information about this case and are still investigating.
“We want to try this in the courtroom and not the newspaper,” Elkins says.
He says his office is still considering whether to try Bresha as a child or as an adult.
She is due back in Trumbull County Family Court at the end of August for a pre-trial hearing, Friedman says. She has entered a plea of “not true” to the charge against her.
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON and HARRIET SOKMENSUER