HomeWorldIowa teen who killed rapist sentenced, ordered to pay $150,000

Iowa teen who killed rapist sentenced, ordered to pay $150,000

A juvenile human trafficking victim, who was charged with first-degree murder after stabbing her accused rapist to death, was sentenced Tuesday to five years of closely monitored probation in an Iowa court and ordered to pay $150,000 in damages to the man’s family.

17-year-old Pepper Lewis was sentenced on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful hurt in the June 2020 murder of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks of Des Moines last year. Both charges can carry up to 10 years in prison.

Polk County District Judge David M. Porter on Tuesday deferred those prison sentences, meaning if Lewis violates any part of his probation, he could be jailed for a term of 20 years.

As to the requirement to pay off his rapist’s estate, “this court is presented with no other option,” Porter said, adding that restitution is mandatory under Iowa law that has been upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Louise was 15 when she stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment. Authorities have said Lewis was a fugitive trying to escape an abusive life with his adoptive mother and was sleeping in the hallways of a Des Moines apartment building when a 28-year-old man forcibly smuggled her to other men. taken before. gender.

Lewis said one of those men was Brooks and that he had raped her several times in the weeks before his death. She told that the 28-year-old man at knifepoint forced her into his apartment to have sex with Brooks. She told officers that after Brooks raped her again, she grabbed a knife from the bedside table and angrily stabbed Brooks.

Police and prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked. But prosecutors have argued that Brooks was asleep at the time he was stabbed and was not an immediate threat to Lewis.

Iowa is not among dozens of states that have so-called safe harbor laws that provide at least some level of criminal immunity to trafficking victims.

Lewis, who earned her GED while in juvenile custody, admitted in a statement before her sentencing that she struggled with the structure of her detention, including “why I was treated like fragile glass” or her was not allowed to communicate with. friends or family.

“My soul is burned, but still glows with flames,” he read from a statement he had prepared. “Listen to my roar, watch me shine, and watch me grow.”

“I am a survivor,” she said.

The Associated Press She does not usually name victims of sexual assault, but Lewis agreed to use her name first in her case stories.

Prosecutors took issue with Lewis calling himself a victim in the case, saying she failed to take responsibility for stabbing Brooks and “leaving her children without a father.”

The judge repeatedly requested Lewis to explain what poor choices she made that led to Brooks being stabbed and expressed concern that she sometimes did not want to follow the rules set for her in juvenile lockups. Was.

“The next five years of your life will be filled with rules you disagree with, I’m sure,” Porter said. He later said, “This is the second chance you have asked for. You don’t get the third.”

Carl Schilling, with the Iowa Organization for Victims Aid, said a bill to create a safe harbor law for trafficking victims was passed in the Iowa House earlier this year, but stalled in the Senate under concerns from law enforcement groups was that it was too broad.

“A working group was set up to sort out the issues,” Schilling said. “Hopefully it will be taken up again next year.”

Iowa has an affirmative defense law that gives victims of a crime certain exemptions if the victim has committed “under compulsion under threat of grievous hurt, provided that the defendant reasonably believes that such injury was imminent.”

Prosecutors argued Tuesday that Lewis waived that affirmative defense when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and intentional hurt.

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