Trial set for Iowa woman charged in hit-and-run, hate crime

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This undated file photo provided by the Polk County (Iowa) Jail shows Nicole Marie Poole Franklin. Clive, Iowa police on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, charged Franklin, of Des Moines with attempted murder. She’s accused of purposely running down a 14-year-old girl who was walking along a sidewalk in a suburban neighborhood. Police say Franklin told investigators she hit the girl because she is “a Mexican.” The girl was seriously hurt but is recovering from her injuries. Franklin is being held in the Polk County Jail. (Polk County Jail via AP, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A trial has been scheduled for an Iowa woman accused of hate crimes in the Des Moines area, including intentionally running over a girl she thought was Mexican.

Nicole Marie Poole is charged with assault in violation of individual rights in connection with an incident at a convenience store and is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 3 in Des Moines. Court documents indicate she also goes by the name of Nicole Franklin.

She remains in custody, pending $1 million cash bail.

Poole went to a convenience store Dec. 9 where she threw items at a clerk and directed racial epithets at him and customers, West Des Moines police said in a court document. She also was charged with operating under the influence, second offense. Poole has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Her attorney didn’t immediately return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press.

Police have said Poole went to the store after a hit-and-run in the Des Moines suburb of Clive. Authorities said she drove her SUV onto a sidewalk there to hit 14-year-old Natalia Miranda. The girl was hospitalized for two days.

Clive Police Chief Michael Venema has said Poole told officers she targeted Miranda because the girl “is Mexican.”

A preliminary hearing in that case is scheduled for Monday.

Poole also is charged with attempted murder for driving over a Des Moines curb on the same day to hit a 12-year-old boy, the records said.

Des Moines police spokesman Paul Parizek told The Des Moines Register the boy is black and said that looking at the other two incidents, “the hate-filled motivation is apparent.”

“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.”

After the first charges were announced Sunday, Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, called for a hate crime charge against Poole in the attack on Miranda.

Joe Henry, president of the group’s Des Moines branch, echoed Garcia’s call and told the Register it would be wrong if Poole were not charged with a hate crime.

“It would give the green light to anybody to do this type of terrible thing,” Henry said.

But Polk County Attorney John Sarcone told the newspaper that a hate crime charge against Poole in the hit-and-run wouldn’t necessarily achieve the justice the community is demanding.

“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 — 17 1/2 are mandatory. It’s five times any sentence you would get on a hate crime.”

Sarcone said that under Iowa law, a hate crime charge enhances other charges, such as arson and assault, but wouldn’t apply to attempted murder.

“It may sound nice, but it doesn’t help anything,” Sarcone said. “When it’s appropriate to enhance, we’ll do it.”

He didn’t immediately return an AP call on Tuesday.

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