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Iowa Teen Who Killed Alleged Rapist Ordered To Pay $150K In Restitution To The Family

Pieper Lewis was sentenced to five years of closely supervised probation after she pleaded to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks.
Iowa Teen Who Killed Alleged Rapist Ordered To Pay $150K In Restitution To The Family
still via We Are Iowa News/YouTube

On Tuesday, a teenage human trafficking victim charged with first-degree murder after she stabbed her accused rapist to death was sentenced in an Iowa court. She was sentenced to five years of closely supervised probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to the accused rapist’s family.

Pieper Lewis, now 17, was finally sentenced after she pleaded last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. 

At the time, Lewis was 15 when she stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment. According to the Associated Press, Lewis was a runaway trying to escape an abusive life. Lewis was allegedly taken in by Christopher Brown, a 28-year-old-man who lived in the apartment building where she slept in the hallways. The man then trafficked her to other men for sex.

Lewis claims that one of those men was Brooks. In the weeks before the murder, Brooks had raped her multiple times. Lewis says she was forced at knifepoint by Brown to go with Brooks to his apartment for sex. Lewis told officials that in a fit of rage, after having been raped again by Brooks, she grabbed a knife from a bedside table and stabbed him. 

Now while both police and prosecutors have not disputed Lewis’ sexual assault and traffick claims, prosecutors argued when the stabbing occured, Brooks was actually asleep, thus not an immediate danger to Lewis.

Lewis’ charges were punishable by up to 10 years in prison. However, Polk County District Judge David M. Porter deferred the prison sentences. But, should Lewis violate any portion of her probation, she could be sent to prison to serve the full 20-year term.

During the sentencing, Lewis read a full statement to the court. She expressed a lot of remorse for her alleged rapist. “That day a combination of complicated actions took place, resulting in the loss of a person and the stolen innocence of a child… I feel for the victims’ family. I wish what happened never did…But to say there is only one victim to this story is absurd.”

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However, Prosecutors took issue with Lewis labeling herself as a survivor. Instead they claimed she failed to take responsibility for Brooks’ death as she left his children fatherless.

Judge Porter also pressed Lewis to understand that her choices as a runway led up to the stabbing. He also noted his concerns that she did not wish to follow rules in juvenile detention. Judge Porter told Lewis, “The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it. This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”

Judge Porter converted Lewis’ civil penalties to community service, at a rate of $7.25 per hour. The statutory requirement requires Lewis to complete 600 hours of community service.

Iowa is not among the dozens of states that have a so-called safe harbor law that gives trafficking victims allocate some level of criminal immunity.