An Iowa woman has pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes for intentionally driving her SUV into two children in 2019.
Nicole Poole Franklin pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the U.S. Hate Crime Act in a Des Moines federal court on Wednesday, April 21, two days after she plead guilty to two state counts of attempted murder, according to the Des Moines Register.
The 43-year-old reportedly drove her car into a 12-year-old Black boy and drove away at the 6000 block of Creston Avenue in Des Moines on December 9, 2019. The boy suffered from minor leg injuries but survived.
One witness told police that the SUV "gunned its engine" before the child was struck, CNN reported.
At approximately 4:20 p.m. on the same day, she then drove her car into a 14-year-old girl, identified as Natalia Miranda, who was walking on a sidewalk on the way to a basketball game in the 9200 block of Indian Hills Drive. The girl suffered several injuries but survived and reportedly spent two days in the hospital.
Poole Franklin told investigators that she intentionally struck the girl "because she was, in her words, 'a Mexican'" when she was taken into custody, according to the Clive Police Department.
According to police, Poole Franklin then "made a series of derogatory statements about Latinos," and more than an hour after she struck Miranda, she was said to have used racist slurs towards a clerk, who she threw items at, and customers in a convenience store, CNN reported.
Poole Franklin reportedly said that she thought the boy was of Middle Eastern descent and was in the Islamic State terrorist group, the Des Moines Register reported.
"I want to say, in the strongest terms possible, that there is no place in our community (or any other) for this type of hatred and violence. We are committed to stand by and support this family and work diligently with them to seek justice," the Clive Police Department said at the time of the incidents.
The girl's father, Cesar Miranda, told CNN 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," he added.
The federal charges against Poole Franklin carry a potential life prison sentence but prosecutors suggested that she be sentenced to 27 years in prison and that the federal and state sentences be served at the same time, according to the Des Moines Register. She is also facing up to 25 years behind bars for both attempted murder counts.