“I’m screaming, I’m crying,” Miranda told KCCI a few days after the incident. “I’m like how did this happen? What happened?”
Miranda would soon learn that Nicole Poole Franklin, now 43, had purposefully rammed into her because she was Hispanic and “wasn’t supposed to be in the country,” according to a statement Poole Franklin later gave to law enforcement.
It was Poole Franklin’s second hit-and-run that day, police said. About 30 minutes earlier, she hit a 12-year-old boy she believed was of Middle Eastern or African descent.
Poole Franklin was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison Thursday on hate crime charges, according to court documents. She was already sentenced in state court to 25 years after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted murder. Poole Franklin will serve the sentences concurrently.
Her lawyer declined to comment.
Richard D. Westphal, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, said the sentence sends a strong message of accountability.
“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 [must be] to provide just punishment, afford adequate deterrence, and protect the public from further crimes by this defendant,” he wrote in the sentencing memorandum.
The first incident on Dec. 9, 2019, occurred at around 3:40 p.m., police said. A 12-year-old boy was walking on a sidewalk with his sibling, also a minor, in Poole Franklin’s apartment complex when she drove her Jeep Grand Cherokee onto the sidewalk.
“As she drove up over a curb, struck and attempted to kill a 12-year-old boy, she also barely missed his older sibling walking alongside him,” prosecutors said.
Witnesses told police she quickly fled the scene, according to court documents. The boy did not go to the hospital.
“She doesn’t even hit the brake,” Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department told The Washington Post weeks after the incidents. “Lot of times with a hit-and-run crash, the first thing the person does is stop — like ‘oh, my God, what did I do?’ … This one, none of that.”
Poole Franklin later told police that she drove into the boy, who is Black, because she believed he was “just like ISIS,” referring to the Islamic State group, and “he’s not supposed to be there and he’s going to take me out,” according to court documents.
About a half-hour later, Poole Franklin spotted 14-year-old Miranda crossing the street and walking toward a junior high school in Clive, a suburb of Des Moines.
After ramming her car into Miranda, Poole Franklin drove away, leaving the teen unconscious in the snow. Witnesses saw the girl walking zombielike and stumbling to the school.
“I was just a girl walking to a basketball game,” she told KCCI. “I didn’t deserve this; I didn’t deserve to get hit by a car.”
Prosecutors said Miranda suffered “serious bodily injury, including physical pain, cuts, bruising, swelling and a concussion.”
In a police interrogation, Poole Franklin said she targeted the 14-year-old because Hispanic people are “takin’ over … our homes, and our jobs,” according to court documents.
Des Moines police apprehended Poole Franklin that evening — but not for the attempted murders.
She was trying to steal food and alcohol at a local convenience store when an employee confronted her, court documents say. Poole Franklin then began throwing the items and yelling racial slurs at the staffer and Black customers in the store.
Police arrested her for assault, public intoxication and misdemeanor theft.
Days later, while she was still in custody, investigators connected Poole Franklin to the hit-and-run incidents.
Prosecutors noted that Poole Franklin has a history of substance abuse and physical and mental illness. She also has several past convictions since she was 18 years old, including for theft, tampering with a witness or juror, assault and harassment.
Poole Franklin pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in April and to the two hate crimes against minors in May.
At the sentencing hearing Thursday in federal court, Cesar Miranda, the teen’s father, testified saying that before the incident, he felt lucky and thankful to live in the United States, the Des Moines Register reported. But the incident changed his outlook for a time.
“My hope disappeared,” he said. “My belief that I was free in this country was gone.”
But he said he forgives Poole Franklin.
“I don’t hate you because I don’t want to feel what you feel to my daughter,” Miranda said. “I hope you change because human beings can never live like this.”