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Iowa woman who struck 2 children with her car sentenced to 25 years in prison for hate crimes

Nicole Poole Franklin was sentenced Thursday to 304 months by a federal judge. This sentence will run concurrent to a 17½-year sentence that Franklin received April 19 on related state charges of attempted murder, prosecutors said in a news release announcing the sentence.

Poole Franklin, 43, was involved in three separate racist incidents on December 9, 2019, according to three police departments. 

According to prosecutors, Poole Franklin was driving her Jeep Grand Cherokee on Creston Avenue in Des Moines when she spotted the first child, a 12-year-old boy, walking with a young family member.

Franklin said she believed they were of Middle Eastern or African descent, according to prosecutors.

Footage from the Des Moines Police Department showed that Poole Franklin intentionally ran over the leg of the 12-year-old boy, who is Black, and drove away.

A witness told police the SUV “gunned its engine” before the driver struck the child.

The boy’s injuries were minor, police said.

About an hour later, Poole Franklin ran over Natalia Miranda, who was 14 at the time, as she walked to a basketball game, according to the Clive Police Department.

This was the incident that made national headlines because upon her arrest, Poole Franklin told police she hit the girl because she “was a Mexican.” Poole Franklin went on to make “a series of derogatory statements about Latinos” during the interview, police said.

An hour-and-a-half after Poole Franklin hit Miranda, West Des Moines police said she used racist slurs toward a clerk and customers at a convenience store and threw items at the clerk.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

In a sentencing memorandum, her attorney, Joseph Herrold, said that Poole Franklin has suffered from severe mental health issues and substance abuse throughout her life, which were exacerbated by poverty and an unstable family growing up.

“There can be no doubt that much more was happening with Ms. Poole Franklin at the time of her offenses than an afternoon of actions driven solely by hate,” according to the memorandum.

“While she understood the nature and quality of what she was doing, and knew it was morally wrong, she was also quite clearly in the midst of an extreme schizoaffective episode that was further exacerbated by methamphetamine use, post-partum depression, and the grief of losing rights to her child.”

Natalia and her family were in court when Poole Franklin pleaded guilty in April. Her father, Cesar Miranda, told CNN then that his family felt bad for Poole Franklin “because I think it’s just a person that has a lot of problems.”

“It’s just hard to believe that someone can have the heart to do that to somebody, to hurt someone just because they believe you’re Mexican, believe you are Latino, or your skin color and just think you don’t deserve to be here,” Miranda said.

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