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An Iowa woman who is accused of running over two children in separate racially motivated attacks will undergo a competency evaluation.
A judge approved the evaluation for Nicole Poole, 42, on Monday.
She is accused of driving her SUV onto a sidewalk in the Des Moines suburb of Clive on Dec. 9 to hit 14-year-old Natalia Miranda. Poole allegedly told investigators she targeted Miranda because the girl “is Mexican.”
The girl was hospitalized for two days but survived.
That very same day, Poole is accused of driving over a Des Moines curb to hit a 12-year-old black boy. He suffered minor injuries to his leg, the Des Moines Register reports.
Poole fled after both alleged attacks. Poole, who also goes by Nicole Franklin, eventually ended up at a gas station convenience store and allegedly threw items at a clerk while directing racial epithets at him and customers.
Poole has been charged with two counts of attempted murder. While she has not been officially charged yet with any hate crimes, Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek told the Register last week that “the hate-filled motivation is apparent." She is expected to face a felony hate crime charge for the gas station incident.
It’s not clear if she will face hate crime charges for the alleged hit-and-runs. The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have called for hate crime charges for the attacks on the two children.
Poole’s attorney Matthew Sheeley told the court on Monday that he worries that his client has a mental disorder, which could make her incompetent to stand trial, the Des Moines Register reports. Sheeley met his client for the first time earlier that morning.
This is not the first time that Poole has claimed incompetence in the face of criminal charges.
Last year, she was accused of biting her boyfriend on an arm, and threatening to kill him with a knife.
Her attorney in that case said he was concerned that her “pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis and the status of her mental health treatment” made her unable to stand trial. A judge ordered an expert to evaluate her but concluded months later that she was competent to stand trial. However, charges were dismissed in that case earlier this year after the victim refused to cooperate.
In another incident, in 2017, West Des Moines police officers responding to a domestic disturbance found Curtis Jones, a 60-year-old black man, bleeding from a severe laceration on his shoulder outside an apartment building, records show. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Poole admitted that she used a knife to stab Jones, her then-boyfriend, and she was arrested on charges of willful injury and domestic abuse assault with a dangerous weapon, according to a criminal complaint. Police called the attack unprovoked. In that case too, charges were eventually dismissed after Jones denied he was stabbed. He told doctors his wounds were cuts from glass, according to the Associated Press.
Just a month before the attack on Jones, her probation officer recommended that she face jail time for repeatedly testing positive for drugs and alcohol and skipping mandatory treatment sessions. Poole was put on probation in 2016 after fleeing from police and driving with a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit. After the stabbing arrest, a probation agent cited Poole’s “continued substance abuse and escalated threat to the public."
Poole is being held on $2 million bond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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