Iowa Woman Who Ran Down 2 Children of Color with Car Gets 25 Years in Prison for Racist Attacks

Nicole Poole Franklin, 43, pleaded guilty to two federal counts of violating the U.S. Hate Crime Act and two state counts of attempted murder

Nicole Poole Franklin
Nicole Poole Franklin. Photo: Polk County Jail/AP/Shutterstock

A white Iowa woman was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for federal hate crimes after intentionally hitting two children — one Black, the other Latina — in racist attacks last year.

Both children survived.

In April, Nicole Poole Franklin, 43, of Des Moines, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of violating the U.S. Hate Crime Act, two days after pleading guilty in state court to two counts of attempted murder, the Des Moines Register previously reported.

She was sentenced in May to 25 years in prison on the state charges, and on Thursday a federal judge sentenced her to 25 years for the two federal crimes, to be served concurrently with the state sentence, PEOPLE confirms.

"Nothing can be more devastating to the American dream of equal rights than the actions of Poole Franklin on a hate-filled Dec. 9, 2019, as she callously attempted to run over and kill a 12-year-old boy, and a 14-year-old girl," Richard D. Westphal, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, wrote in the sentencing memorandum, according to a news release obtained by PEOPLE.

Around 3:45 p.m. on that date, Poole Franklin drove her Jeep Grand Cherokee onto a sidewalk of Creston Avenue in Des Moines, striking the Black boy, "believing the victim was of Middle Eastern or African descent," states the news release. She then drove off, leaving him with minor leg injuries.

"Poole Franklin later stated she believed the child was 'ISIS' and was going to take her out," states the news release.

About 30 minutes later, Poole Franklin jumped the curb with her vehicle onto the sidewalk of Indian Hills Drive in Clive, running down the girl and causing serious injury that included a concussion. "Poole Franklin later told law enforcement that she believed the minor victim was Latina, claiming she was "taking over ... our homes, and our jobs, and 'wasn't supposed to be in our country,'" according to the news release.

Poole Franklin again left the scene but was caught that same day by police. She told investigators that she had not only struck the girl, but had done so intentionally, according to the Clive Police Department.

Police said Poole Franklin admitted to striking the girl because of her race. "She went on to make a number of derogatory statements about Latinos to the investigators," the police statement says.

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Poole Franklin's attorney, Joseph Herrold, wrote in a sentencing memo in which he pleaded for leniency for his client: "As she entered adulthood, struggling with mental illness, substance use problems, unstable housing, and poverty, Ms. Poole Franklin began having problems with the law," reports The New York Times.

At the May sentencing on state charges, according to the Register, the 14-year-old girl's father testified that he forgave Poole Franklin, but that his faith had been shattered by her actions after he'd raised his children to believe they were lucky to live in the U.S.

"My hope disappeared," Miranda said. "My belief that I was free in this country was gone."

"I don't hate you because I don't want to feel what you feel to my daughter," he said, addressing Franklin directly prior to her sentencing last May. "I hope you change because human beings can never live like this."

The federal sentence also requires Poole Franklin to serve an additional five years of probation after her prison term ends.

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