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Lawyers for Iowa teen who killed man she said raped her may appeal $150,000 she was ordered to pay his family

As on-line outrage mounts and donations pour in for an adolescent in Des Moines, Iowa, who was ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the household of a person who she mentioned had raped her, her legal professionals are contemplating whether or not to hunt a discretionary assessment with the Iowa Supreme Courtroom.

Pieper Lewis, a repeat runaway, was 15 when she fatally stabbed Zachary Brooks, 37, greater than 30 occasions in June 2020 in a Des Moines residence. She pleaded responsible in June 2021 to voluntary manslaughter and willful damage. Polk County District Choose David Porter on Tuesday sentenced Lewis, who had been jailed on the Polk County Juvenile Detention Middle for 2 years, to 5 years of intently supervised probation and ordered her to pay $150,000 in restitution to Brooks’ household.

Porter mentioned he had no selection as a result of restitution is necessary below Iowa regulation.

On the request of Lewis’ attorneys, the decide granted a deferred judgment, which suggests her responsible plea may very well be expunged if she meets the phrases of her probation.

At a sentencing listening to Tuesday, considered one of Lewis’ attorneys, Matthew Sheeley, an assistant state public defender, argued that Brooks’ property was not entitled to any restitution.

“Legally talking, our place was that the entry of the deferred judgment is just not a conviction below the statute and subsequently it doesn’t set off the restitution requirement,” Sheeley mentioned in an interview Wednesday. “Now, after all, the state’s argument, I imagine, is in any scenario the place an offender commits an offense and so they obtain a deferred judgment, they’re at all times obligated to pay restitution.”

Pieper Lewis listens as her legal professional Matthew Sheeley questions a witness throughout a sentencing listening to on Sept. 13, 2022.Zach Boyden-Holmes / The Register through USA TODAY Community

Sheeley mentioned the protection additionally argued Tuesday “that the Legislature couldn’t have supposed a scenario the place, as right here, the person who’s receiving the restitution truly dedicated a prison offense.”

“Based mostly on what Pieper admitted to in her responsible plea, we’re confronted with a scenario the place she is now being ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the property of Zachary Brooks — the very one who she mentioned in her responsible plea” had sexually assaulted her, Sheeley mentioned. “So the absurdity is obvious: that she was a sufferer, however the regulation, as is being utilized right here, actually doesn’t acknowledge that.”

Polk County Legal professional John Sarcone mentioned Brooks “was probably asleep” on the time he was stabbed and “clearly not able to defend himself.” Prosecutors have argued that Brooks was not an instantaneous menace to Lewis. Sarcone mentioned that the restitution is required below Iowa regulation and that she knew it could be imposed when she pleaded responsible.

“The court docket had no discretion however to impose this requirement,” Sarcone mentioned.

Sheeley mentioned the decide did what he thought the regulation required.

“I can’t fault a decide for doing his job,” he mentioned. “And our group completely respects the decide, even when we could have a authorized disagreement.”

Robert Rigg, a regulation professor at Drake College in Des Moines, mentioned he has by no means heard of a governor in Iowa interceding on behalf of a defendant in a restitution matter, which some folks have implored Gov. Kim Reynolds to do. However he mentioned he believes she has the inherent energy to try this. Alex Murphy, a spokesman for Reynolds, didn’t reply to a number of telephone and e-mail requests for remark.

Sheeley mentioned Lewis’ authorized group could search a discretionary assessment with the Iowa Supreme Courtroom, asking it to handle whether or not she needs to be required to pay the restitution.

Rigg mentioned that if he have been a member of Lewis’ protection group, he could be sending out feelers to the governor’s workplace to see whether or not it could be prepared to commute that a part of the sentence.

“I definitely suppose you’ve obtained a compelling case to take to the governor’s workplace and say, ‘Look, Governor, we’re not asking you to commute this complete sentence, simply that portion the place she’s going to be required to pay the $150,000,’” Rigg mentioned.

Rigg, who labored within the public defender’s workplace for 17 years, mentioned what Lewis’ legal professionals completed “was truly a very good outcome for his or her consumer.”

“First they knocked a homicide one right into a voluntary manslaughter,” he mentioned. “That, in itself, right here in Iowa is an enormous deal. The second half was reaching a deferred judgment on this case, which is an astounding achievement for the protection bar.”

In a press release filed as a part of her plea settlement, Lewis mentioned she ran away from house thrice from January to March 2020 to flee emotional and bodily abuse. In early 2020, she had been taken in by varied individuals who turned abusive, the final of whom was Christopher Brown, 28, she mentioned. Makes an attempt to succeed in Brown for remark at numbers listed for him have been unsuccessful.

Within the witness assertion, she mentioned that she was sleeping within the hallways of a Des Moines residence constructing when Brown took her in and that they developed a sexual relationship instantly after she moved into his residence. She mentioned he instructed her that she was his girlfriend, signed her up for courting websites after which organized for her to have intercourse with males for cash.

In Could 2020, Lewis mentioned in her assertion, Brown organized for her to remain at Brooks’ residence for 3 days. The 2 males have been acquaintances, she mentioned. Whereas she was there, she alleged in her assertion, Brooks compelled her to drink alcohol and use marijuana and raped her 5 occasions whereas she was unconscious. Weeks later, Lewis alleged, Brown compelled her to return to Brooks’ residence, the place he intoxicated her and raped her once more. When she realized Brooks had raped her, she mentioned, she was “overcome with rage,” grabbed a knife from his nightstand and commenced stabbing him.

In court docket, Lewis’ attorneys have accused Brown of aiding and abetting intercourse trafficking. Brown has not been charged.

Sarcone mentioned the human trafficking allegations are below investigation, “and we don’t touch upon investigations.”

A GoFundMe marketing campaign launched to assist pay the $150,000 in restitution to Brooks’ household has drawn almost 11,000 donations totaling greater than $400,000. A few of the donors have implored the governor to become involved. The GoFundMe marketing campaign can also be supposed to “take away monetary boundaries” for Lewis, in keeping with its organizer.

A spokesperson for GoFundMe mentioned it has seen an outpouring of assist for Lewis, particularly during the last 48 hours, from donors throughout the U.S., in addition to all over the world.

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