Last year, our Cleveland criminal defense lawyer’s client was arrested
and accused of shooting her father—a man who was reportedly a violent
and manipulative terror to his wife and children. She was 14 years old
at the time of her arrest. Now, as a 15-year-old, our client and the circumstances
of this case are extraordinary in the purest sense of the word—very
few minors are tried and treated for cases like this one. Even fewer receive
the sort of publicity and public involvement it has inspired.
Due to the circumstances of the alleged crime, it has been our firm’s
opinion that our client does not belong in jail—certainly not at
15 years old. Attorney Ian Friedman’s recent pretrial efforts have
been focused on giving our young client access to mental evaluation and
healthcare as soon as possible.
We are pleased to announce that the Trumbull County Court has agreed to
transfer our client to a treatment facility, allowing her to receive the
needed assessment and care in the months leading up to our trial date.
The Huffington Post, in reporting this story, quoted Attorney Ian Friedman
“I think [the transfer] will be good for her, and instrumental in
bringing this case to a conclusion.” He added that he was pleased
with the decision, and the transfer was imminent.
The Huffington Post has also noted that our client’s supporters are
drawing parallels between her case and the case of Marissa Alexander—a
woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot
at her physically abusive husband. Marissa was eventually released after
3 years for taking a plea deal.
The Road to Trial
Friends and family packed the courtroom Friday to show their support for
the 15-year-old, many wearing shirts prominently displaying the rally
cry #StandWithBresha. While the teen was not released on bond, her transfer
to a juvenile facility designed for mental evaluations is a critical step
in getting Bresha the help she needs and will also allow for family visits.
News of the transfer was far from the only update to come out of Friday’s
hearing. Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Stanley Elkins said that
the teen will not be tried as a serious youthful offender, a classification
which may have opened up the possibility of Bresha being sent to an adult
prison. Now that this option is off the table, the maximum sentence for
a conviction has been substantially reduced.
Another pretrial hearing is scheduled for April with the trial itself set
to begin on May 22. Until this time, Bresha will remain in custody.
A Long History of Abuse
Our client’s father was known by his wife as an abusive and dangerous
man. In 2011, almost exactly 5 years before our client was arrested, he
was served with an order of protection for allegedly threatening to kill
his wife and children. The order was dropped 2 months later, and our client’s
mother asserts that it was because he forced her to drop it.
Her order of protection included a chilling note: “If he finds us,
I am 100% sure he will kill me and the children.” In early 2016,
our client ran away from home repeatedly and asked for family members’
help in keeping her family safe. These are not the actions of a murderer
or a criminal. They’re the actions of a young girl who ran out of options.
We believe our client was acting in self-defense to protect herself and
her loved ones. As Mr. Friedman puts it, “A 14-year-old was put
into an impossible situation. She witnessed a lot of hardcore abuse against
her mom. That’s no way for anyone to grow up, and there was no end
Visit the Ian Friedman
criminal defense blog for more updates on this story.