Judge Again Nixes Moving Nicole Finn Murder Trial; Jury Survey Begins Friday

DES MOINES, Iowa – A judge has, for the second time, denied the change of venue motion for a West Des Moines woman accused of killing her adoptive daughter.

At a hearing Thursday in Polk County the judge in Nicole Finn’s murder trial denied the motion, but did not close the door entirely on the case being moved.

Judge Karen Romano is allowing the survey of 300 potential jurors to begin Friday in an attempt to find enough impartial jurors to hear Finn’s case. The potential jurors will be questioned next week and should an impartial jury be found, Finn’s trial would continue as scheduled on November 27th.

Judge Romano says she will reconsider moving the trial if an impartial jury cannot be seated.

Finn’s lawyers are arguing extensive pre-trial publicity of her case makes it unlikely she could receive a fair trial in Polk County. The lawyers cited media coverage linking Finn’s case to other high-profile child abuse cases as well as claims of ineffectiveness of Department of Human Services employees.

Finn and her ex-husband Joseph Finn are charged in connection with the death of 16-year-old Natalie Finn. She died in October of 2016 at the family’s West Des Moines home. Natalie was found on the bare floor of a room, not breathing and unresponsive. An autopsy determined she died of a cardiac arrest after being starved by her adoptive parents.

The Finns face charges of 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 in the case.

Joseph Finn’s trial is scheduled for January 8, 2018.