Iowa woman charged in second hit-and-run of child; victims are Hispanic, black

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa woman accused of purposely hitting a Hispanic girl with her car earlier this month has been charged in a second hit-and-run -- that of a black 12-year-old, according to police.

Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, of Des Moines, is charged with two counts of attempted murder, The Des Moines Register reported. The second charge was filed Monday.

>> Related story: Iowa woman admits striking 14-year-old girl with car because she is ‘a Mexican,’ police say

Though Franklin admitted to striking the 14-year-old Hispanic girl Dec. 9 in a racially motivated attack, she has not confessed to the second incident, which took place about 30 minutes before the attack on Natalia Miranda, according to authorities. The Register reported that court records indicate Franklin was tied to the attack on the boy through surveillance footage from the scene.

The newspaper reported that Franklin is accused of striking the 12-year-old in the parking lot of a Des Moines apartment complex shortly before 4 p.m. Dec. 9. Witnesses told police the SUV that struck the child accelerated prior to hitting him.

A criminal complaint obtained by the Register said the boy suffered minor injuries to his leg. The document indicated surveillance footage showed Franklin’s 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee at the scene.

About 30 minutes later, Miranda was walking on a sidewalk in Clive, heading to a basketball game at her middle school, when an SUV veered onto the sidewalk and hit her. Miranda, whose name became public when she and her parents spoke to the media, suffered a concussion and other serious injuries.

Clive police Chief Michael Venema said during a news conference Friday that Franklin told police she’d hit Miranda because she is “a Mexican.” The Register reported that Franklin also told detectives she’d smoked methamphetamine earlier in the day of the attacks.

Franklin was arrested about an hour after the attack on Miranda. According to police, she went to a West Des Moines convenience store, where she is accused of berating the clerk, taking and eating items she had not paid for and throwing objects at the clerk, who co-owns the store with his brother.

A witness, Kevin Reed, told the Register he was in the store when he saw Franklin throwing bags of potato chips, referring to people by racial and ethnic slurs and destroying merchandise.

She is charged with assault, operating under the influence, theft and public intoxication in the third incident, the Register reported. Franklin also faces a hate crime charge in the case, West Des Moines police authorities announced Sunday night.

The hate crime charge was tacked on hours after Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, called for the enhancement, the Register reported.

“This is the latest victim in what has already been one of the bloodiest years for Latinos in the United States, and no one is more to blame for this dangerous toxic environment in our country today than President Trump himself,” Garcia said in a statement. “He has steadily beat the drum of racial bigotry since he started campaigning for office and inspired murder, assaults and racial taunts all across America in 2019.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also called for hate crime enhancements in the incidents.

The attacks on the two children had some law enforcement officers stunned.

“Shock would be an understatement,” Venema said Friday about the attack on Miranda. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 35 years and I get very used to people being a little bit callous or maybe leaving the scene of an accident and not caring about someone who’s been hurt if they did so unintentionally. I was very shocked to hear that this was an intentional act.”

Watch Venema speak about the Clive crime below, courtesy of KCWI 23 in West Des Moines.

Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek told the Register in an email Monday night that the “hate-filled motivation is apparent” in the hit-and-run of Miranda and in the confrontation at the West Des Moines gas station.

“The collective voice of metro law enforcement, and the communities we serve, is sending the message that if you commit biased-based crimes, we will charge you with the most serious offense applicable, with the most severe consequences,” Parizek said. “In this case, that charge is attempted murder.”

It was not yet decided Tuesday if Franklin would face hate crime charges in the attacks on the two children. Polk County Attorney John Sarcone told the Register it is a possibility but said he didn’t think the enhancement would bring the community justice.

Hypothetically, Sarcone said, adding a hate charge to the attempted murder charge in the attack on Miranda could open the possibility that a jury could convict her of the hate crime, but drop the attempted murder charge.

“I can’t specifically talk about her case,” Sarcone said. “All I can say is attempted murder is a Class B felony. That’s a 25-year sentence, (and) 17 1/2 are mandatory.

“It’s five times any sentence you would get on a hate crime.”

He said while a hate crime charge enhances some other charges, attempted murder isn’t one of them.

“It may sound nice but it doesn’t help anything,” the prosecutor told the Register. “When it’s appropriate to enhance, we’ll do it.”

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