Appeals Court Upholds Murder, Kidnapping Convictions of Nicole Finn

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IOWA — The Iowa Court of Appeals has denied Nicole Finn’s challenge to her convictions of First Degree Murder and Kidnapping for the death of her daughter, Natalie, and the abuse of her and her siblings.

Natalie Finn died at the age of 16 in October 2016 hours after she was taken from her West Des Moines home by ambulance. She was found in a bare room in the home wearing a soiled adult diaper. She was severely malnourished, the major contributing factor to her death. Finn’s adoptive parents, Nicole and Joseph Finn, were convicted for their roles in her death.

Joseph Finn, who was estranged from his wife at the time of Natalie’s death, pleaded guilty to three counts of participating in a felony causing serious injury. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Nicole Finn was found guilty of First Degree Murder and three counts of First Degree Kidnapping. She was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Nicole Finn appealed her convictions, challenging that prosecutors failed to prove her abuse rose to the level of “kidnapping”. Her appeal also challenged the jury seating process for her trial as well as her denial of a change of venue motion. The Court of Appeals denied her appeal and affirmed her convictions.

In her opinion, Judge Anuradha Vaitheswaran writes that Natalie Finn challenged whether her confinement of her children could be considered child abuse. The investigation of Natalie’s death lead to the discovery that she and two siblings were kept in confinement in a single room in the house that was stripped of beds and carpeting. The room’s door and window were also outfitted with alarms. The children were not allowed to use the bathroom unless they were supervised by Nicole Finn or a fourth sibling who was not kept in confinement. Vaithewswaran writes that clearly meets the condition of the letter of the law that the childrens’ “freedom to move about [was] substantially restricted by force, threat or deception.”

Joseph Finn is also appealing his convictions.

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