An Iowa woman who pleaded guilty to hate crime charges for attempting to kill two minor children with her SUV because of their race was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday, the Department of Justice announced.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose sentenced Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, to 304 months in federal prison on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently with each other as well as with a related state charge.
Franklin in April pleaded guilty to two federal hate crime charges stemming from a pair of racist incidents that took place on the same day in December 2019 involving her using her Jeep Grand Cherokee to hit a 14-year-old Hispanic female and a 12-year-old Black boy.
“Nicole Poole Franklin attempted to kill two children because of the way they looked and where she believed they came from. This kind of egregious racial violence and hatred has absolutely no place in this country and will not be tolerated by the Justice Department,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement on Friday. “Children deserve to walk the streets of their neighborhood without fear of violence because of what they look like and where they come from and deserve to grow up in a world where they are not targeted simply because of who they are. The Justice Department will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously prosecute those who commit hate crimes in this country.”
Prosecutors said that Franklin was driving in Des Moines, Iowa on the afternoon of Dec. 9 when she spotted the first minor victim.
“Upon seeing the children and believing that the victim was of Middle Eastern or African descent, Poole Franklin drove her vehicle over the curb towards both children, striking one of them. Poole Franklin then drove away from the scene,” the DOJ said in the press release. The child was left with cuts, bruises, and swelling.
Franklin is then said to have driven to the area around Indian Hills Junior High School where, approximately 30 minutes later, she saw the second child victim, who she believed to be of Mexican descent, walking on the sidewalk. She drove her vehicle over the curb and rammed into the child “causing serious injury, including a concussion, bruises, and cuts” before again fleeing the scene, the DOJ said.
The second victim, Natalia Miranda, told Des Moines CBS affiliate KCCI that she was standing by a stop sign when the incident happened. She didn’t remember the impact, just the vehicle approaching her, she said.
“And I remember waking up in the snow,” Miranda said. She said she didn’t know what was going on.
A few hours after the hit-and-run incidents, Franklin was arrested after an employee at a local convenience store caught her trying to steal multiple items and confronted her about the theft. Franklin then allegedly began screaming racial slurs at the employee.
According to a report from NBC News, law enforcement authorities did not connect Franklin to the hit-and-run incidents for several days when she told police that she ran over a young boy because he was “just like ISIS.”
Franklin’s attorney, Joseph Herrold, had previously argued that his client suffered from severe mental health issues and was “in the midst of an extreme schizoaffective episode that was further exacerbated by methamphetamine use,” according to a report from CNN.
“Nicole Poole Franklin committed a despicable crime,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel. “She targeted and seriously injured two children because of the color of their skin. FBI Omaha will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate hate crimes and seek justice for the victims. We encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI.”
[image via Polk County Jail]
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