Witness: Nicole Finn ‘wasn’t processing’ her actions due to mental health

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) -- In week three of Nicole Finn’s murder trial, a psychologist says the mother's mental health kept her from realizing the severity of her own daughter's health.

Minnesota-based psychologist Dr. Carlo Giacomoni was the first witness for the defense Monday.

After 16-year-old Natalie Finn died of starvation, Giacomoni said he diagnosed Nicole Finn with two mental health disorders.

"The first one is post-traumatic stress disorder,” Giacomoni said. “The second is major depressive disorder."

Giacomoni said he sat down with Nicole for nine hours, poring over nearly 4,000 pages of records, to determine that her mental health caused her to have a distorted perception of certain situations.

"One of the concerns was DHS would go to her house, and they said, ‘She's avoiding us. She's not answering the door.’ But people with trauma, you'll see this where they want to push everyone out,” Giacomoni said.

Giacomoni says Nicole Finn’s mental health gave her a distorted perception of certain situations.

"She would see what's happening but because of her significant difficulty dealing with emotional stress or distress, she wasn't processing it,” Giacomoni said.

Giacomoni described Nicole Finn’s perception of an instance when Natalie was leaning up against a wall too weak to walk.

"Nicole looked at that, and she said, 'Well, I thought she was leaning on the wall because of all the cats walking around. She's trying to walk around the cats and not lose her balance,’” Giacomoni said.

“She did things that maybe I wouldn't have done as a parent or another person might have done as a parent, but it's also hard for me to say what I would have done in that situation because I'm not in that situation,” Giacomoni said.
Finn decided Monday not to testify on her own behalf.

The state will offer its rebuttal witness Tuesday, followed by closing arguments.

Read the original version of this story at KCCI.com.