Attorneys for an Iowa teen asked a judge to overturn a portion of the sentence that ordered her to pay $150,000 to the estate of her rapist.
Pieper Lewis, who turned 18 on Wednesday, was sentenced earlier this month to five years of probation and a deferred judgment, meaning her record could be expunged if she meets the conditions of her sentence. The teen had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in 2021 for 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. Brooks had been trafficked by another man while she was a runaway. Lewis claims that Brooks raped her multiple times. In a fit of rage, after having been raped again by Brooks, Lewis grabbed a knife from a bedside table and stabbed him.
Investagators and prosecutors have not disputed Lewis’ sexual assault and traffick claims, but argued that Lewis wasn’t in immediate danger as believe Brooks was actually asleep during the crime.
Shortly after news broke that the teen was required to pay restitution, a GoFundMe started by her former high school math teacher appeared. Supporters refused to leave such a burden on a teen sex-trafficking survivor. The GoFundMe reached over $500,000 from about 14,000 donations.
Now, Lewis’ legal team is fighting back.
“Voluntary manslaughter requires an element of ‘serious provocation,’” Lewis’ legal team wrote as reported by USA Today. “The ‘serious provocation’ at issue here was the rape Pieper endured immediately before the stabbing, a rape perpetrated by Zachary Brooks.”
Lewis’ lawyers also argue that the judges decision was based on a 2017 Iowa Supreme Court ruling, in which a teen girl stabbed a man to death with her 19-year-old boyfriend while robbing another man in 2013. The teen girl in that case pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
According to Lewis’ lawyers, the cases aren’t similar at all because Lewis did not plan out the crime beforehand and acted out of defense.
“The very notion that she is now required to pay $150,000.00 to the heirs of the man who raped her on the morning of June 1, 2020, is absurd.”
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