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‘This Woman Desperately Needed Help’: Judge Sentenced Iowa Woman Who Ran Over Two Children Because of Their Race to 25 Years On Hate Crime Charges

On Thursday, Aug. 19,  U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Iowa, Stephanie Rose, sentenced Nicole Poole Franklin to more than two decades in prison on two federal hate crime charges. In April, Franklin admitted to running her SUV into two children because she thought they were of Middle Eastern, African, or Mexican descent in an incident stemming from December 2019.

Nicole Marie Poole
Nicole Poole Franklin | CREDIT: POLK COUNTY JAIL

The 43-year-old had previously been sentenced to 25 years, including a mandatory minimum of 17-and-a -half on state attempted murder charges in Des Moines last May after pleading guilty in state court the month before. The woman, who is white, will serve both of her 25-year sentences concurrently.

However, she will be incarcerated for much longer since the federal system does not have parole, according to the Des Moines Register. Federal sentencing guidelines had recommended a term of 30 years to life.

As previously reported, the woman told investigators that she intentionally hit the then-14-year-old Natalie Miranda and a then-12-year-old Black boy with her Jeep Grand Cherokee on two separate occasions on the same day because of their race.

The young boy suffered pain, cuts, bruising, and swelling after Franklin, who was lurking around on Creston Avenue, drove her car “over the curb, onto the sidewalk, toward both minors,” striking only one of them. Franklin told officers she thought the boy was Middle Eastern.

Less than an hour later, in the city of Clive, the woman was driving near a junior high school when she saw Miranda, who Franklin believed was Mexican, walking on the sidewalk. Like before, she drove over the curb and struck the teenager, leaving her at the scene. Clive Police arrested the suspect later that day at a Conoco gas station, where she hurled Middle Eastern racial slurs at an employee and customer and threw items at them.

At the time, Franklin’s attorney cited mental illness, claiming that his client had “fallen under the spell of conservative news outlets that portrayed immigrants as invaders.” However, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Richard D. Westphal, described Franklin’s actions as “devastating to the American dream of equal rights.” But, he added, “Her actions temporarily shattered, but did not permanently defeat this dream.” 

Judge Rose acknowledged the defendant’s state of mind when casting down her ruling, calling the case “difficult” on “many, many levels,” noting that Poole Franklin is not only a danger to others but to herself as well.  “It’s unfortunate this country has not prioritized mental health. … It’s clear this woman desperately needed help,” she added.

Meanwhile, Westphal stated that he was “Holding Poole Franklin accountable, not only for her intentional actions, but for the malicious beliefs behind them, is what our justice system should be, and a must to provide just punishment, afford adequate deterrence, and protect the public from further crimes by this defendant.”

Franklin ultimately apologized to the victims and their loved ones, who submitted sealed victim impact statements to the court but did not read them aloud. 

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