A teenager in Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced to pay $150,000 in compensation to the family of a man she said had sexually assaulted her. As online outrage grows and contributions come in for the teen, her attorneys are debating whether to ask the Iowa Supreme Court for a discretionary review.
Pieper Lewis, a serial runaway, stabbed Zachary Brooks, 37, more than 30 times before killing him in a Des Moines residence in June 2020. In June 2021, she admitted to deliberate harm and voluntary manslaughter. On Tuesday, Polk County District Judge David Porter sentenced Lewis, who had spent the previous two years incarcerated at the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center, to five years of tightly monitored probation and mandated that she pay the Brooks family $150,000 in compensation.
Porter claimed that he was left with no choice because restitution is required by Iowa law.
Lewis’ attorneys asked for a delayed judgment, so the judge complied. This implies that if Lewis completes her probation, her guilty plea may be vacated.
Matthew Sheeley, an associate state public defender, one of Lewis’ attorneys, contended that the estate of Brooks was not entitled to any compensation during a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
Legally, according to Sheeley, “our argument was that the entry of the deferred judgment is not a conviction under the Act and, as a result, it does not bring about the reparation requirement.” Now, naturally, the state’s argument is that an offender is always required to make restitution in any circumstance when they commit an infraction and receive a deferred judgment, in my opinion.
According to Sheeley, the defense claimed on Tuesday that the Legislature could not have anticipated a scenario in which the individual receiving the reparation actually committed a crime, as is the case in this case.
We are now faced with a situation where Pieper is being ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the estate of Zachary Brooks, the very guy who she claimed in her guilty plea had sexually attacked her, Sheeley said. This is because of what Pieper agreed to in her guilty plea. Therefore, it is ludicrous that she was a victim but that the law, as it is being administered here, doesn’t actually acknowledge that.
According to Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, Brooks was probably dozing off when he was stabbed and was therefore unable to protect himself. According to the prosecution, Brooks did not pose a direct threat to Lewis. According to Sarcone, she was aware that the restitution would be levied when she pleaded guilty and that it was required by Iowa law.
According to Sarcone, the court was forced to enforce this stipulation.
Sheeley claimed that the judge followed the law as he understood it.
I won’t criticize a judge for carrying out his duties, he remarked. Even though there may be a legal difference, our team respects the judge wholeheartedly.
Some have urged Gov. Kim Reynolds to intervene on behalf of a defendant in a reparations case, but Robert Rigg, a law professor at Drake University in Des Moines, said he has never heard of an Iowa governor doing so. But he asserted that he thinks she have the innate ability to accomplish that. Multiple phone calls and emails to Reynolds’ spokesperson Alex Murphy for comment went unanswered.
Sheeley stated that Lewis’ legal team may ask the Iowa Supreme Court to conduct a discretionary review to determine if Lewis should be obliged to make the restitution payment.
In order to find out whether the governor’s office would be willing to reduce that portion of Lewis’ sentence, Rigg said that if he were a member of Lewis’ defense team.
I do believe you have a strong case to present to the governor’s office, Rigg said. “Look, Governor, we’re not asking you to commute this full sentence, just the part where she’ll have to pay the $150,000,” Rigg added.
Rigg, a 17-year veteran of the public defender’s office, claimed that the outcome obtained by the Lewis attorneys was actually very favorable for their client.
He claimed that they converted a murderous act into a voluntary manslaughter first. That is a significant event in Iowa by itself. The postponed judgment in this case, a remarkable accomplishment for the defense bar, was the second component.
Lewis said in a statement included in her plea bargain that she fled her home three times between January and March 2020 in order to avoid emotional and physical violence. She claimed that in early 2020, she had been taken in by a number of persons who afterwards turned violent, with Christopher Brown, 28, being the most recent. No one could be reached at the phones listed for Brown to provide a comment.
She claimed in the witness testimony that Brown took her in after she was found sleeping in the halls of an apartment complex in Des Moines and that they started having sex as soon as she did. She claimed that he introduced her as his girlfriend, set her up on dating websites, and then set up sexual encounters between her and males in exchange for cash.
Lewis claimed in her statement that Brown set up her three-day visit at Brooks’ apartment in May 2020. She claimed that the two males knew one another. She claimed in her statement that while she was there, Brooks raped her five times while she was asleep and forced her to consume beer and marijuana. Lewis claimed that Brown compelled her to go back to Brooks’ apartment a few weeks later, where he made her drunk and raped her once more. She claimed that after realizing Brooks had sexually assaulted her, she was so furious that she took a knife off of his nightstand and started stabbing him.
Attorneys for Lewis have charged Brown in court with encouraging sex trafficking. Brown is not facing any charges.
The charges of human trafficking are being investigated, according to Sarcone, and we do not comment on investigations.
A GoFundMe campaign started to assist with paying the Brooks family’s $150,000 in restitution has received almost 11,000 donations totaling more than $400,000. The governor has received requests from some of the donors to get engaged. According to the campaign’s administrator, Lewis will benefit from the GoFundMe by having financial obstacles eliminated.
A GoFundMe representative stated that there has been a tremendous outpouring of support for Lewis from donors all throughout the United States and the rest of the world, especially during the past 48 hours.