Trauma expert said more chances needed for a Des Moines woman who killed a man she said raped her repeatedly

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 10:15 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - One member of the anti-human trafficking group, Chains Interrupted, said changes to the justice system were needed for people who have experienced severe trauma.

This comes after 18-year-old Pieper Lewis left the women’s facility where she was serving her probation. Pieper Lewis was charged with murder when she was 15 years old after killing 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. In court, Lewis said she ran away from home in 2020 to get away from an abusive household. A man allowed Lewis to live with him only if she would have sex with him and traffic her to other men.

Lewis stabbed Brooks more than 30 times after she said he raped her repeatedly. Lewis pled to manslaughter, and a judge gave her a deferred judgment and said she needed to spend 5-years at a women’s facility. She left that facility more than once, and the DOC said she violated her probation.

“You can’t expect people that have been through complex trauma to just all of a sudden be fine,” said Teresa Davidson, the CEO of Chains Interrupted.

Davidson looks to prevent situations like what Pieper Lewis described from happening to others.

“Trauma causes changes in the brain,” she said. “Someone that may be triggered and think ‘I’m in a traumatic situation right now’ even if it’s not true.

What happens next to Lewis may be decided at a Polk County hearing next week, Davidson said changes need to be made to the justice system for people like Lewis who have endured so much trauma, and another chance was desperately needed.

“Typically, in our system, there’s a law that’s broken, and then you get the sentence, and it’s across the board for everyone,” she said. “In this kind of situation needs to be individualized.”

Lewis is being held at the Polk County Jail. She has a court appearance next week.