An Iowa woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to hate crime charges for attempting to kill two children because of their race and national origin.
According to admissions Nicole Poole Franklin, 42, made during the hearing, on the afternoon of Dec. 9, 2019, Poole Franklin was driving her Jeep Grand Cherokee on Creston Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, where the first child-victim was walking along the sidewalk with another young relative. Upon seeing the children and believing that the victim was of Middle Eastern or African descent, Poole Franklin drove her vehicle over the curb towards both children, striking one of them. Poole Franklin then drove away from the scene. The assault resulted in injury to the victim, including cuts, bruising, and swelling. Approximately 30 minutes later, Poole Franklin was driving her Jeep near Indian Hills Junior High School in Clive, Iowa, where the second child-victim was walking on the sidewalk. Poole Franklin, believing that the child was Mexican, drove her vehicle over the curb and struck the victim, causing serious injury, including a concussion, bruises, and cuts. Poole Franklin again drove away from the scene but was apprehended later that day.
Poole Franklin is also expected to plead guilty in state court later today to two counts of attempted murder.
“Nicole Poole Franklin attempted to kill two children because she thought they came from another country,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “All people in the United States, regardless where they come from, have the right to be free from fear of violence because of who they are. The Justice Department will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and prosecute hate crimes, as we have done in this case.”
“Our office will vigorously pursue civil rights prosecutions against individuals, such as Ms. Poole Franklin, for hate motivated attacks,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa. “Protecting the rights of the residents of our community, more importantly, the families and children who live here, is one of the most important functions of the United States Attorney’s Office. These young and courageous victims, whatever their race, color, religion, or national origin, should not have to fear for their safety by merely walking down the street. The message from today’s hearing should be crystal clear – this sort of hateful violence is unacceptable, and the Department of Justice will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to hold accountable all who choose to violate another’s civil rights.”
“FBI Omaha agents worked diligently with our law enforcement partners to bring Nicole Poole Franklin to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel of the FBI Omaha Field Office. “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.”
Poole Franklin’s federal sentencing date is set for Aug. 19. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the charged offenses.