Sherin Mathews' dad jailed for life after expert rejects his claims that she 'choked to death on milk' before he dumped her body near drain
39-year-old Wesley Mathews was sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of intentionally and knowingly causing serious bodily injury to a child
A Texas father whose three-year-old adopted daughter was found dead in a culvert has been sentenced to life in prison by a jury in Dallas County, Texas, following a three-hour deliberation. The sentencing comes after 39-year-old Wesley Mathews pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally and knowingly causing serious bodily injury to a child in connection to the 2017 death of his daughter, Sherin, this past Monday, June 24, according to CNN.
It was Mathews who originally reported Sherin missing in October 2017, telling authorities she had disappeared after being forced to stand in an alley behind his home in Richardson as punishment for not drinking her milk. Two weeks later, searchers found the three-year-old's body in a bag placed inside a culvert less than a mile from his house, following which Mathews admitted to moving his daughter's body and claimed she had died after choking on milk in the family's garage.
The claim that Sherin choked on milk was rejected by a medical examiner who testified that it's unlikely a child can die in such a way, prosecutors said. "It means he's still a liar. It means he killed that little girl. And when he killed her, he panicked," prosecutor Sherre Thomas argued, according to WFAA.
Sherin was adopted from an orphanage in Nalanda, a city in India's eastern state of Bihar, in 2016, and according to testimony by doctors at a previous child custody hearing for his other daughter in December 2017, was abused in the lead up to her death. Dr. Susan Dakil, a pediatrician certified in child-abuse pediatrics, testified that X-rays had revealed multiple fractures in the three-year-old's arms and legs and that because of the way they had healed, she was confident the injuries happened after her adoption.
At the time, Dakil said she reported her findings to Sini Mathews, the defendant's wife, but was told by her that a report to Child Protective Services "would ruin her weekend." Mathews, who was originally indicted on charges of capital murder and tampering with evidence, expressed similar sentiments after taking to the stand to speak about the circumstances of Sherin's death.
It was something that has continued to remain a mystery since her disappearance, with lead prosecutor Jason Fine stating her body "was so badly decomposed" that "the medical examiner could not determine an official cause of death." Mathews told the jury that following her adoption, doctors had told him she needed milk to gain weight and that he was afraid they would contact Child Protective Services if her health didn't improve.
"We've already been called out once by CPS and CPS investigated us for four months," he said. "Doctor can say the parents are not feeding the child enough, so basically it falls on us." Then, over the next hour, he explained how, after she died after choking on milk, he put her body in a blue recycling bag and placed her in a nearby culvert because he wanted to protect her body.
"I refused to believe that my child had completely gone from this world," he said. "I believed that if I prayed hard and strong enough that God would bring my child back." When asked why he took matters into his hands and didn't call the police for hours or even wake his wife, Mathews said, "I was being driven by fear. Fear of CPS, fear of how Sini is going to take this piece of news and fear of losing my house and family."
Sini was also arrested in connection to the death and charged with child endangerment. However, the charge was later dropped due to a lack of evidence, and she was released in March 2019.