An Iowa judge ruled Tuesday that a 15-year-old girl who killed a man she says raped her multiple times must pay her family $150,000 in restitution.
Pieper Lewis, who killed her alleged rapist in 2020, received a deferred sentence from Polk County District Judge David Porter after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Porter ruled that Lewis would receive five years of probation, perform 200 hours of community service and pay $150,000 in fines. The deferred adjudication means this can be expunged from Lewis’ record.
Iowa law requires courts to order criminals to pay $150,000 if they kill another person.
Lewis pleaded guilty in June 2021 to the murder of Zachary Brooks. According to the plea agreement, Lewis said Brooks, 37, raped her multiple times in 2020.
“Suddenly I realized that Mr. Brooks had raped me again and that he was overcome with rage. Without thinking, I immediately grabbed a knife from his nightstand and began stabbing him,” Lewis stated in the plea agreement. “I further acknowledge that the multiple stab wounds I inflicted on Mr. Brooks ultimately resulted in his death.”
In court Tuesday, Lewis read a statement.
“My story can change things. My story has changed me,” he said. “The events that happened on that terrible day cannot be changed, as much as I wanted to. A combination of complicated actions took place that day resulting in the death of a person as well as the theft of a child’s innocence.
“As I grow and evolve as a young woman, I feel for the victim’s family. I wish I never did what happened. And I really feel that way. The healing process is inevitable. I repeat, I wish the events of June 1, 2020 never happened. But to say that there is only one victim of this story is absurd.”
Lewis’ attorney said he was pleased the judge deferred his sentence.
“We are very excited by Judge Porter’s decision in the case. A deferred sentence will allow Pieper to live the rest of his life,” Matt Sheeley told CNN.
“Pieper is so grateful for all the love, compassion and support he’s received. Anyone who meets him immediately falls in love with him,” Sheeley said. “She is an extraordinary young woman of remarkable courage. And he’s surprised by all the love he’s received, he’s been surprised. We are all amazed.”
Explaining her decision to order community service, Judge Porter said: “The purpose of this, Ms. Lewis, is for you to tell a story … you should be willing and able to tell that story to other young, vulnerable women in our community. And so you will give back… through community service hours.”
Sheeley did not say whether they planned to appeal the restitution decision in the case.
A former Lewis teacher is raising money to pay restitution and future educational expenses.