Pieper Lewis, the Iowa teenager and sex trafficking victim who killed a man she says repeatedly raped her, is back in custody after escaping from the residential correctional center where she was serving her probation , according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Lewis, 18, was arrested just days after leaving the Des Moines Women’s Center where she was sent as part of a deferred judgment she received after pleading guilty to intentional homicide and bodily harm volunteers in the 2020 murder of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. Lewis was 15 at the time.
Lewis was found in Des Moines and returned to custody on Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Corrections said in a statement. The teenager is being held at the Polk County Jail, said Lt. Ryan Evans of the Sheriff’s Office, who told CNN she was due a future court date for violating her probation.
Lewis disappeared early Friday, Nov. 4, when she turned off an electronic monitoring device and left the Fresh Start Women’s Center, Jerry Evans, executive director of the Department of Corrections for the Fifth Judicial District, previously told CNN.
When she left, authorities filed a “probation violation report,” Evans told CNN, “recommending that her probation be revoked” and seeking a warrant for her arrest.
The probation violation report says an alarm sounded at the facility at 6:19 a.m., notifying staff that a door had been opened. A residential officer then saw Lewis exit the facility through a door, according to the report obtained by CNN.
The report, which was signed by a probation officer and a residential supervisor, then seeks the warrant for Lewis’ arrest, adding: “It is further ordered that his pending judgments (be) revoked and that the original sentence be imposed. .”
Lewis became a resident of the Fresh Start Women’s Center after pleading guilty to murdering Brooks, saying in her plea agreement that he raped her multiple times.
She initially faced up to 20 years in prison. But in September, Polk County District Judge David Porter granted a deferred judgment, meaning the plea could be overturned if she completed her probation term at the residential correctional facility.
Under Iowa law, the court also had to order Lewis to pay restitution costs of $150,000 to Brooks’ family, the judge said. He also ruled she would have to perform 200 hours of community service and pay over $4,000 in civil penalties.
In the plea agreement, Lewis described to the court the series of events that she says led to the murder, beginning with her running away from home due to what she said was an abusive environment. She was eventually taken in by a man who she says trafficked her, forcing her to have sex with other men in exchange for money. Brooks was one such man, according to Lewis, who described in her agreement that she was repeatedly assaulted, including while she was unconscious.
On May 31, 2020, the man Lewis was living with confronted her with a knife and forced her into Brooks’ apartment, where Lewis said she was forced to drink vodka and had finally fallen asleep. At one point, she woke up to find Brooks was raping her, she said.
Later, Brooks fell asleep and Lewis, “enraged” upon realizing he had raped her again, “immediately grabbed the knife from his nightstand and began stabbing him”, he said. she stated in the plea agreement.
Lewis’ lawyer was happy with the deferred judgment, but advocates for victims of sexual violence have expressed concern about his ability to serve his sentence, pointing to the extent of his trauma.
They also pointed out how her case echoed other recent cases in the United States in which teenagers – often people of color – were legally penalized or convicted of killing their sex trafficker or abuser.
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