Iowa teenager Pieper Lewis was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution for killing her alleged rapist. The 17-year-old pleaded guilty in June 2020 to the willful injury and involuntary manslaughter of Zachary Brooks.
Lewis faced two charges, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. On Tuesday, Polk County District Judge David M. Porter deferred Lewis’ prison sentence, the Associated Press reported.
The teen was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay Brooks’ family $150,000 restitution. If the teen violates the terms of her probation, she could face up to 20 years in prison.
The judge explained that the restitution was mandatory and could not be avoided under Iowa law. Porter said, “This court is presented with no other option.”
The teen, an alleged trafficking victim, was only 15 years old at the time of the killing. Lewis had run away from an allegedly emotionally and mentally abusive home several times in 2020. She was sleeping on the steps of an apartment complex when she met a 28-year-old man who offered her a place to stay.
Lewis accused the man of forcing her into sex trafficking and selling her to other men, including 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. Prosecutors did not deny that Lewis had been trafficked or that Brooks had raped the teen on multiple occasions.
On the evening of Brooks’ death, Lewis told the court that she had woken up to him raping her. After Brooks had fallen asleep for the evening, the teenager grabbed a knife from the nightstand and stabbed him 30 times.
The prosecution argued that, since Brooks was asleep, he did not pose an immediate danger to the teenager. They stated that Lewis did not take responsibility for her actions and left Brooks’ children without a father.
Before the sentencing, Lewis expressed that she was struggling with her detention because she was “treated like fragile glass” and not allowed to communicate with loved ones, the Associated Press reported.
“My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames,” Lewis said. “I am a survivor.”
Judge Porter requested that Lewis acknowledge the poor choices she made that led to the killing of Brooks. In addition, he voiced concern that the teenager seemed defiant of the rules of her detention.
“The next five years of your life will be full of rules you disagree with, I’m sure of it,” Porter said. “This is the second chance that you’ve asked for. You don’t get a third.”