Iowa woman accused of racist attacks ruled incompetent for trial

National News

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Polk County (Iowa) Jail shows Nicole Marie Poole, who also goes by the name Nicole Franklin. A trial has been scheduled for Franklin, accused of hate crimes in the Des Moines area, including intentionally running over a girl she thought was Mexican. She 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. (Polk County Jail via AP, File)

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

Nicole Poole, 42, is charged with assault in violation of individual rights for an incident at a convenience store and with attempted murder. Police have said she intentionally ran over two children with her SUV. Both survived.

On Dec. 30, a judge ordered an evaluation for Poole after her attorney reported that he’d only just met Poole but that he thought she was incompetent to stand trial. The prosecutors didn’t fight the defense request for a psychiatric evaluation.

After hearing hearing evidence and arguments, the judge ruled Tuesday “by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant is suffering from a mental disorder which prevents her from appreciating the charges, understanding the proceedings or assisting effectively in her own defense.”

The judge suspended case proceedings and ordered state treatment for Poole to restore her to competency. An April 21 hearing is scheduled to reconsider the matter. Court documents indicate Poole also goes by the name Nicole Franklin.

Authorities have said Poole drove her SUV onto a sidewalk in the Des Moines suburb of Clive on Dec. 9 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.”

After the hit-and-run, Poole went to a convenience store and threw items at a clerk while directing racial epithets at him and customers, West Des Moines police said in a court document.

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

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