An Iowa judge on Tuesday sentenced a teenage victim of human trafficking who stabbed her accused rapist to five years of closely supervised probation and ordered her to pay $150,000 restitution to the dead man’s family.
Pieper Lewis, 17, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks of Des Moines.
According to testimony, Lewis was a runaway at age 15 who was taken in by a man who eventually trafficked her to other men for sex.
According to Lewis, Brooks was one of those men. Lewis, who was 15 at the time, said Brooks raped her repeatedly over several weeks as the man she lived with forced her to go to Brooks’ apartment numerous times.
On the day Brooks was killed, Lewis said Brooks had raped her again and that she grabbed a knife on the bedside table and stabbed him 30 times.
Judge David Porter deferred the possible jail sentence of 10 years for each offense, instead of giving Lewis probation. If she violates the terms of her probation, she could be sent to prison to serve the jail terms.
Porter explained the decision to have Lewis pay restitution to Brooks’ family was made because “this court is presented with no other option.” Under Iowa law, restitution to a crime victim is mandatory.
According to The Guardian, prosecutors did not dispute that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked. However, they said that Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed and not an immediate threat to Lewis.
Lewis read a statement before she was sentenced saying, “My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames. Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow.”
“I am a survivor,” she added.
Judge Porter warned Lewis that she would be required to follow the rules of her sentence after Lewis had some issues while she was in juvenile lockup, The Associated Press reported.
“The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it,” Porter said. He later added, “This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”
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