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 as saying:
“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 in sight.”