Nicole Poole Franklin was sentenced last week to 25 years in state prison after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted murder in connection with two incidents on Dec. 9, 2019, the Des Moines Register reported.
Franklin, a white woman from Des Moines, Iowa, pleaded guilty on April 19 to intentionally hitting two children with her SUV in two separate incidents on the same day, 14-year-old Latina girl Natalia Miranda and an unnamed 12-year-old Black boy, crimes for which she received two concurrent 25-year sentences from Polk County District Court Judge Scott Beattie on May 28. She also pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges on April 21 and could face up to life in prison on those charges.
The 43-year-old stated that she committed the racially charged crimes because she thought the two kids were of Middle Eastern, African, or Mexican descent. The newspaper reported that Franklin’s attorney, Matthew Sheeley, told the court that at the time of the crimes she was suffering from a severe case of schizophrenia and hadn’t been taking medication for it because she was pregnant.
Her lawyer also claimed that his client had “fallen under the spell of conservative news outlets that portrayed immigrants as invaders.”
“In her mind, these people were invading our country and taking our homes and jobs,” Sheeley explained. “She was severely mentally ill, but she was not clinically insane.” Franklin entered the guilty plea for her racially charged crimes in April.
The father of the young girl, Cesar Miranda, testified in a hearing just before the sentencing. Miranda explained to the courtroom that he had always stressed to his children how lucky they were to live in America and be free.
He forgave Franklin but expressed that because of the incident, his “belief that I was free in this country was gone.” Speaking directly to the woman, he said, “don’t’ hate you because I don’t’ want to feel what you feel to my daughter.” He added, “I hope you change because human beings can never live like this.”
Meanwhile, Natalia told Franklin that she was sorry that her skin color angered her, “but me and my people are never leaving.”
Osman Sanford, the young boy’s father, said his son’s personality changed following the attack, stating that he’s now angry and aggressive. “I know it’s’ going to affect his life, so I’m’ just trying to help him,” Sanford told the court.
Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel of the FBI Omaha Field Office released a statement following the federal guilty plea, stating, “FBI Omaha agents worked diligently with our law enforcement partners to bring Nicole Poole Franklin to justice.”
He added, “It’s unimaginable that violence based on race, sexual identity, or religious beliefs still exists in this day and age. The FBI will not tolerate someone committing such abhorrent violence against two children, just because of the color of their skin. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure that if a crime is motivated by bias, it will be investigated, and the perpetrators held responsible for their actions. We encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI.”
On the day of the attacks Natalie was severely injured, suffering a concussion, and was hospitalized for two days after Franklin struck the her while she was walking on the sidewalk near Indian Hills Junior High School in Clive, Iowa. Franklin fled the scene immediately afterward.
The first victim suffered cuts, bruising, and swelling after Franklin hit him with her Jeep Cherokee outside a West Des Moines apartment complex. Authorities reported that Franklin later drove to a gas station, where she yelled racial slurs at employees and non-white customers and threw items around the store.
The woman is due back in court on August 19, where she will be sentenced for the two federal hate crime convictions in connection to the attacks. The Register reported that she could face a sentence of up to life in prison under the hate crime statute, though federal prosecutors are recommending 27 years and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the charged offenses.