2 Negley women plead no contest in July beating

LISBON – Two Negley women accused of beating a Poland woman in July pleaded no contest to persistent disorderly conduct Monday in Columbiana County Municipal Court.

Lakia R. McDevitt, 22, Stateline Road, Negley, and Susan Bish, 22, state Route 170, Negley, were each charged with assault, but agreed to plead no contest to the amended charge.

A charge of complicity to assault against Susan Bish’s mother, Peggy Bish, 52, state Route 170, Negley, was dismissed.

Assistant County Prosecutor Megan Forsythe cited potential evidentiary issues in proving the charge as her reason for dismissing the charge.

The mother of Breanna Minniti, the victim in the case, spoke both during Peggy Bish’s hearing and the hearing for McDevitt. According to court documents, Peggy Bish was accused of taunting Minniti and then cheered the other two young women on as the assault occurred.

“This woman is a parent,” she said of Peggy Bish. “She wouldn’t want this to happen to her kids.”

According to court documents, the two friends, Susan Bish and McDevitt, teamed up against Bish’s brother’s ex-girlfriend, Minniti.

A sheriff’s reports from the assault stated Minniti and her ex-boyfriend, Christopher Fereana, had decided to go canoeing together and he had driven her to his mother’s home where the two women pulled Minniti from the truck by her hair.

Court documents state they attacked Minniti by punching and kicking her in the head, pulling her hair, biting her and throwing her to the ground. Minniti, who was 18 at the time, was treated at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for head trauma, facial contusion, neck contusion, a left ankle sprain and a human bite.

“I just can’t believe the conduct of people,” Minniti’s mother stated, “But it’s how they were raised, that they would attack someone like an animal.”

Although their clients both agreed to plead no contest, the attorneys of the women seemed to somewhat question the story. Bruce Williams, the attorney for Susan Bish, said although he understood his client’s wish was not to fight the charge any further for financial reasons, he urged her to continue on and proceed to trial on the charge.

Forsythe seemed to agree there may be more to the story, but that Minniti was injured in the situation.

“There are three sides to every story,” Forsythe noted, “each person’s side and the truth.”

While Forsythe stated she could not condone anyone’s actions on that day, she called the situation a “melee.”

Judge Mark Frost sentenced Susan Bish and McDevitt to 30 hours community service and a $200 fine each. A 30-day jail sentence was suspended. Both were ordered to attend anger management counseling and to have no further contact with Minniti. Frost further urged the women to convince their friends not to get involved in hassling Minniti either.

“These things sometimes turn into feuds,” Frost noted. “They sometimes don’t end. This thing ends here, regardless of what happened.”