Family Law Expert Says Finn Case May Open Door for Others

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  On Thursday, a West Des Moines mother was found guilty of murdering her 16-year-old adopted daughter. Now, prosecutors hope this trial paves the way for other similar cases.

Nicole Finn faces mandatory life in prison for the death of her adopted daughter, Natalie Finn. Natalie died last year from cardiac arrest brought on by starvation.

Nicole was also found guilty on kidnapping charges related to the other children she adopted.

Prosecutors hope this trial opens the doors for justice in others case, like the Sabrina Ray case; Ray's adoptive parents are charged with the girl's death. Family law expert Rob Sand says it is often difficult for jurors to come to a verdict in child abuse cases based on the amount of evidence involved.

"I think, fundamentally, it's hard to predict what any jury is doing. You can have one jury that looks at a body of evidence and has a snap decision in a matter of minutes, another jury might look at that case for days. Part of it depends on the leadership, who might be the jury foreperson,” Sand said.

State lawmakers say these cases could bring about important policy changes in the Department of Human Services.