Trial begins in starvation death of West Des Moines teen

Published: Dec. 1, 2017 at 4:18 PM CST
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The siblings of a teenager who starved to death say their mother punished them for sneaking out of their home to beg for food. That was how jurors Friday heard the prosecution describe the home life of Natalie Finn.

Her adoptive mother, Nicole Finn, is on trial for the teenager's first degree murder. Natalie Finn was 16 when she died from starvation in their West Des Moines home in October last year.

The prosecution says the mother took away the beds of her children and confined them to their bedrooms.

Natalie Finn's brother was the one who called 9-1-1 the night she died. The first officer who responded said the home smelled of urine and feces, but mentioned there were also animals inside. That officer told jurors Natalie Finn was frail when she found her.

"She was very thin. You could see her bones sticking out. And she was only wearing what appeared to be adult depends," Officer Chelsea Dexter of the West Des Moines Police Department, said.

But Nicole Finn's defense attorney said things aren't always as they always appear. She told jurors Natalie suffered from Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD. That caused the teenager to manipulate others and defy authority.