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Rapist Murderer: Victim, killer, or both?

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

“I am a survivor,” says 15-year-old Pieper Lewis while speaking about the death of her rapist. On June 1st, 2020, Pieper Lewis was raped by 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. Weeks later, she stabbed Zachary more than 30 times.

Pieper had a troubled childhood. At 15, she escaped her adoptive, abusive mother. She was then taken in by a 28-year-old man involved in child sex trafficking. Pieper was first forced into the hands of Zachary Brooks. Pieper recalled him raping her multiple times in the weeks prior to the murder. CBS News states, “She recounted being forced at knifepoint…to go with Brooks to his apartment for sex.” During this occurrence, she decided she had enough. After he raped her again, she grabbed a knife and “stabbed Brooks in a fit of rage”.

Pieper did not plead guilty. Prosecutors believe she should have taken responsibility because, by stabbing Brooks, she left his kids without a father. The judge repeatedly asked her to explain the poor choices she made leading to the stabbing of Brooks.

Two years after the death of Zachary Brooks, Pieper could have either been sentenced to 10 years in jail or closely supervised probation for five years and 150,000 dollars to Brooks’ family. The probation is strict and a simple breach in a rule could lead to a sentence of 20 years in jail for Pieper.

Iowa has an affirmative defense law that gives leeway to victims of crimes that commit a violation. This law states, "under compulsion by another's threat of serious injury, provided that the defendant reasonably believed that such injury was imminent." This law will provide a better, more reasonable sentence for Pieper.

After being abused for years, raped for weeks, and taken advantage of by deceased Zachary Brooks, Pieper was sentenced to probation, and a cost to pay the family of Brooks. Some see her as a murderer, while others focus on how she was a victim of abuse. Now, she is on probation for the next five years.


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