Iowa Girl Who Killed Man Who Repeatedly Raped Her Avoids Prison, But Must Pay His Family $150,000

Pieper Lewis, 17, had been facing two decades in prison for the fatal 2020 stabbing of Zachary Brooks

Pieper Lewis
Pieper Lewis. Photo: Pieper Lewis Facebook

An Iowa teen who was facing serious prison time for fatally stabbing her alleged rapist in 2020 was instead sentenced this week to five years of supervised probation — and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the man's family.

Online court records confirm Pieper Lewis, 17, learned her fate inside a Polk County courtroom on Tuesday.

Last year, Lewis pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury for fatally stabbing Zachary Brooks, 37, in June 2020.

She had been facing a possible 20-year prison term going into Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

Pieper allegedly stabbed Brooks 30 times in the chest, arms and groin area after he allegedly sexually assaulted her over several days.

Pieper's plea agreement, previously obtained by PEOPLE, states the homeless teen, who was 15 at the time of the killing, told investigators she had run away from home three times between January and March of 2020 before she began sleeping in the hallway of a building in Des Moines.

In a statement she made as part of her plea agreement, Pieper said she briefly stayed with a man in the building, but left after he became "verbally, physically and sexually abusive towards me shortly after I moved into his apartment."

Pieper said she then moved in with another man who lived across the hall, and stayed with him from mid-April until her arrest on June 2, 2020. Pieper said shortly after she moved in that the man created a dating profile for her and placed it on a dating website.

"[The man] would then arrange for me to have sex with men for money," Pieper said in her statement.

She said she was introduced to Brooks in May of 2020 and stayed with him for three days, alleging that during that time, he sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions.

She stated that she was later forced to return to Brooks' apartment, after the man she was staying with "wanted me to go to Mr. Brooks apartment to get marijuana."

"He told me that I needed to 'turn that trick' to 'get us some weed,'" she said, adding that when she refused to go, the man "grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and pressed it against my neck. … He cut my neck with the knife and this frightened me. When I agreed to meet with Mr. Brooks, [the man] removed the knife from my throat."

According to Pieper, Brooks picked her up in a parking lot on May 31 and brought her back to his apartment, where she alleges he forced her to drink vodka and smoke pot before he sexually assaulted her. After the alleged attack, Pieper said Brooks fell asleep. But as she was getting ready to leave, she saw a knife with a black sheath on his night stand.

"I suddenly realized that Mr. Brooks had raped me yet again and was overcome with rage," she said, according to her statement. "Without thinking, I immediately grabbed the knife from his nightstand and began stabbing him."

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Pieper was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

The Associated Press reports from the hearing that Polk County District Judge David M. Porter called the deferred sentence "a second chance for the teen." As far as the restitution was concerned, he said his hands were tied.

"This court is presented with no other option," Porter reportedly said before ordering Pieper to pay the $150,000. He noted that the restitution payment was mandatory under Iowa law.

A GoFundMe has been created to help Pieper pay the restitution. It was created by Leland Schipper, who says Pieper was a former student of hers. As of Wednesday, $247,970 was raised.

The girl was further ordered to perform 1,200 hours of community service. If she violates any of the terms of her probation, Pieper could go straight to prison and would have to serve 20 years.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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