Joseph Finn admits to boarding up windows to prevent children from escaping

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A West Des Moines father charged in his 16-year-old adopted daughter’s starvation death pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of assault while participating in a felony causing a serious injury.

Forty-seven-year-old Joseph Finn II appeared in court to plea to the charges, which each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

He is scheduled to be sentenced May 4.

He had originally been charged with three counts of first-degree kidnapping, child endangerment, and neglect or abandonment of a dependent after Natalie Finn was found dead in her home in October 2016. She weighed around 80 pounds at the time of her death, investigators said.

Joseph Finn did not live in the West Des Moines home where his adopted daughter died, but prosecutors say he boarded up the windows in the house after his ex-wife, Nicole, complained Natalie and other adopted children were escaping and begging neighbors for food.

He told the judge he was aware his children were urinating and defecating in the room they shared.

“The way that I understood it, (Nicole) only requested that the kids asked for permission to do things,” Joseph Finn said. “There was quite a bit of confusion on my part trying to understand the situation because it didn’t make sense to me why this was occurring.”

He said his ex-wife, who is serving three life sentences after she was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, had control over him.

Joseph Finn said he regrets his inaction “every day since.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to go on camera after Wednesday’s hearing, but Finn’s attorney said he’s never had a client more remorseful than Joseph Finn.

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