An Iowa teenager who fatally stabbed her alleged rapist avoided prison time on Tuesday when a judge sentenced her to five years probation and ordered her to pay $150,000 restitution to the man's family.
The Associated Press reported that 17-year-old Pieper Lewis was initially charged with first-degree murder for fatally stabbing 37-year-old Zachary Brooks in June 2020.
Officials said the then-15-year-old runaway was sleeping in the hallways of a Des Moines apartment building when a 28-year-old man took her in and began trafficking her to other men for sex, the news outlet reported.
According to the Des Moines Register, one of those men was Brooks, who Lewis said raped her multiple times weeks before he died.
The news outlets reported that Lewis told officials that the 28-year-old forced her at knifepoint to go to Brooks’ apartment to have sex with him.
The teenager said that when Brooks tried to rape her again, she grabbed a knife from a bedside table and stabbed him in a fit of rage, the news outlets reported.
Police and prosecutors have never doubted she was sexually assaulted, but prosecutors argued that she stabbed Brooks when he was sleeping and was not a threat to her, the Associated Press reported.
Lewis pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury, both of which are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, the news outlets reported.
On Tuesday, Polk County District Judge David M. Porter deferred those prison sentences, which means if she violates her probation, Lewis could be sent to prison for 20 years, according to the news outlets.