DES MOINES, Iowa – A district court judge has ruled the murder trial of West Des Moines woman accused of killing her adoptive daughter will remain in Polk County.
In online court documents filed Monday, Judge Karen A. Romano denied Nicole Finn’s motion for a change of venue.
Nicole Finn is charged in the death of her 16-year-old adopted daughter Natalie Finn, who died in October. She was found unresponsive and not breathing, on the floor of a bare room at her family’s West Des Moines home. Prosecutors say she was also wearing an adult diaper and appeared to have been in her own waste for, “some time.”
Both of Natalie Finn’s adoptive parents are charged in her death. Nicole Finn and Joseph Finn are charged with child endangerment resulting in death, first degree kidnapping, child endangerment-serious injury, and neglect or abandonment of a dependent person.
Nicole Finn is also charged with first degree murder.
Judge Romano’s decision to deny the change of motion venue cited a survey of potential jurors called for jury service in Polk County on June 5, 12, 26 as well as July 10 and 17. The survey revealed almost half of the jurors had not heard of the case. The survey also showed 77% of potential jurors indicated they could be fair and impartial jurors.
“The court finds that there has not been a showing of substantial prejudice such that there is no likelihood that a fair trial can be held in Polk County,” wrote Judge Romano in her decision.
Nicole Finn’s trial is scheduled to start October 23rd.
Judge Romano also addressed a motion by Joseph Finn to change the venue for his trial. She said a hearing will be held closer to his trial, which is scheduled for November 27th, to determine whether proceedings should be moved from Polk County because of publicity from Nicole Finn’s trial.