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Iowa teen who pleaded guilty to killing alleged rapist faces sentencing Wednesday

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Image Source: Polk County Juvenile Detention Center

An Iowa teenager who pleaded guilty to murdering her alleged rapist in June 2020 faces sentencing on Wednesday.

The Des Moines Register reported that Pieper Lewis, now 17 years old, pleaded guilty to killing Zachary Brooks, 37, when she was 15.

The teenager had run away from home several times between January and March 2020. A doctor who testified for Lewis noted that her mother, Leslie Lewis, was “mentally and emotionally abusive.”

Lewis’ attorneys told the court about an incident where Lewis had returned home from being raped, and her mother seemed to blame her daughter for the attack. The teen responded by running away and sleeping on the steps of an apartment complex.

Lewis told authorities it was then that she met a 28-year-old musician who offered to take her in. Instead, the musician forced her to have sex with multiple men, including Brooks.

The teen told the court that one night in May, Brooks raped her five times and forced her to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. Lewis recalled that on a later date in May, the musician cut Lewis’ throat with a knife when she refused to go with Brooks.

During a visit to Brooks’ home in June, Lewis fell asleep and woke up to Brooks raping her. After he had gone to sleep, Lewis stated that she was getting ready to leave when she noticed a knife on the nightstand.

Lewis claimed that something inside her snapped. Blinded by rage, she grabbed the knife and stabbed Brooks 30 times in his sleep.

The prosecution never disputed Lewis’ claims that Brooks had raped the underage girl.

Assistant Polk County attorney Erik Howe argued, “The child’s counsel has made much of the fact that Mr. Brooks seems likely to have committed a crime of his own prior to his death: statutory rape of a minor. While the undersigned certainly doesn’t wish to condone or excuse that conduct, it really isn’t germane to the discussion of whether waiver is appropriate. While it could potentially serve as a mitigating factor, the Court has no evidence before it to suggest it was a factor in Mr. Brooks’ death whatsoever. At best, child’s counsel’s argument amounts to ‘he was a bad guy so he deserved it.’”

The musician has not been charged for the alleged sex trafficking of the underage girl.

Lewis awaits sentencing on Wednesday at Polk County Criminal Courthouse for a first-degree murder charge. The teen agreed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in adult court. Lewis could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison for each charge.

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