Mother found guilty of murder after 16-year-old daughter starves to death

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa mother was convicted of murder Thursday in the starvation death of her 16-year-old daughter, who weighed only 85 pounds when she died, according to WHO.

Nicole Finn was also found guilty of three counts of first-degree kidnapping, related to her other children.

Natalie Finn died in October of 2016 after being found unresponsive and not breathing on the bare floor of a bedroom at the family’s West Des Moines home. Investigators say she was wearing an adult diaper and had been sitting in her own waste for some time.

An autopsy determined she was severely malnourished and that she died from cardiac arrest brought on by starvation.

In January, Nicole Finn was initially charged with murder, kidnapping, and child endangerment resulting in death. Her ex-husband, Joseph Finn, was charged with kidnapping, abandonment, and neglect causing serious injury.

Nicole Finn’s trial began Nov. 30 at the Polk County Courthouse and testimony concluded Tuesday morning.

During the trial first responders, police officers, educators, representatives from DHS, therapists and Nicole Finn’s three adoptive children testified against her.

Her defense attorneys argued that she suffered from PTSD and severe depression which caused her to not grasp what was happening in her home when Natalie died.

They called one witness to the stand to testify on Nicole Finn's behalf, Dr. Carlo Giacomino. He told the court, “Because of her significant difficulty dealing with emotional stress, or this stress…she was not processing it, she wasn’t allowing herself to notice that maybe there’s something really bad going on.”

But prosecutors worked to prove otherwise.

The state called the lead detective, Brian Morgan, to the stand.

Morgan’s testimony included text messages Nicole sent to her ex-husband Joseph Finn, which proved she knowingly did not feed Natalie and two other adopted children. He also spoke about the filthy conditions in the family’s home – including the strong odor of human and animal feces.

The last witness the state called to the stand was Dr. James Dennert. He acknowledges that Nicole Finn did suffer from PTSD and depression but refuted the defense's claim.

“There is nothing in either of those diagnoses or symptoms that would prevent a person from misunderstanding the ramifications of his or her actions,” Dr. Deenert said.

Joseph Finn faces one count of child endangerment resulting in death, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of child endangerment-serious injury, and three counts of neglect of a dependent person. His trial is scheduled for January of 2018.