In May, a Des Moines woman received 25 years behind bars for state charges of attempted murder. She just got 25 more, this time thanks to a new sentencing on two federal hate crimes. Iowa's News Now reports that 43-year-old Nicole Poole Franklin, who admitted that in 2019 she slammed her car into a 12-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl due to their race with the intent to kill them, will serve her sentences concurrently.
- Hate crime No. 1: Prosecutors say that on Dec. 9 of that year, Poole Franklin was on an afternoon drive in Des Moines when she spotted two young people she believed were either African or Middle Eastern, per her guilty plea. She drove her Jeep Grand Cherokee up onto the curb and hit both minors, injuring a 12-year-old Black boy, who she thought was "ISIS," police say. The child's injuries included bruises, cuts, and swelling, per the plea agreement.
- Hate crime No. 2: The New York Times reports that not even an hour later, Poole Franklin had made her way into the nearby city of Clive, where she saw a 14-year-old girl on the sidewalk. Poole Franklin—who later told investigators she thought the teen was Mexican and "wasn't supposed to be in our country," per Iowa's News Now—then drove her car again over the curb, hitting the girl, according to the plea agreement. The teen suffered bruising, swelling, and a concussion.
- How she got busted: Poole Franklin fled both scenes, and she was arrested later that evening—but not for the hit-and-runs. Court documents cited by the Washington Post note she was detained after allegedly trying to steal from a convenience store while intoxicated, an incident in which she reportedly hurled racial slurs at customers and staff. Police linked her to the hit-and-runs days later.
- Plea from suspect's defense team: In a memo asking for leniency, Poole Franklin's lawyer detailed her longtime struggles with mental illness, including diagnoses of depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
- Prosecutor's response: Richard D. Westphal, the acting US attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, wasn't buying it, and in his own sentencing memo, he tore into Poole Franklin. "Nothing can be more devastating to the American dream of equal rights than [her] actions," he noted. "Holding [her] accountable, not only for her intentional actions, but for the malicious beliefs behind them, is what our justice system should be."
- Victim's reaction: "I [was just] a girl walking to a basketball game," 14-year-old Natalia Miranda told KCCI days after the crime. "I didn't deserve this."
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