Iowa mom gets 3 life sentences in girl's starvation death

Nicole Finn

Natalie Finn weighed only 85 pounds when she died in October 2016, authorities have said.

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 1:11 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa woman convicted of murder in the starvation death of her 16-year-old daughter was given three life sentences Friday.

The sentences were handed down to 43-year-old Nicole Finn of West Des Moines. She was convicted last month of first-degree murder of Natalie Finn and three counts of kidnapping for confining Natalie's siblings.

Finn said she intends to appeal but made no other comment after hearing the sentences.

Natalie Finn weighed only 85 pounds when she died in October 2016, authorities have said. Experts testified that her siblings, Mikayla and Jaden, were at risk of starving to death as well and spent months recovering after Natalie suffered cardiac arrest.

Judge Karen Romano called Finn's actions inexcusable and ordered her to not have any contact with her adopted children.

"The court cannot imagine what kind of mental trauma these children have suffered," Romano said.

Finn's ex-husband, Joe Finn II, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, neglect or abandonment and child endangerment. He wasn't living with the rest of the family when Natalie died. His trial is scheduled to begin April 30.

During trial, prosecutors described Nicole Finn as more concerned about her animals than her children. The mother of five kept three of her teens confined in a bedroom without furniture and didn't allow them regular access to food or a bathroom for months.

The children would at times climb out a window of their home and seek food from neighbors.

Neighbors and school officials reported their concerns about Natalie Finn's treatment to state child welfare authorities. After obtaining a court order and visiting the home, the officials declined to remove the girl or her siblings. A child protective worker was later fired amid inquiries by the Department of Human Services, legislators and the Iowa Office of Ombudsman.

In final arguments, the defense said Nicole Finn was detached from reality.

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