Wesley and his wife Sini who hailed from Kerala had adopted the girl child from Bihar and settled down in Texas.

Indian-American Wesley Mathews gets life term in prison for death of daughter Sherin
news Child abuse Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 09:17

Wesley Mathews, the adoptive father of Sherin Mathews – the three-year-old who was found dead in a Texas culvert in 2017 – has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his daughter.

After about three days of testimony, the jury at a Dallas County court unanimously decided 39-year-old Wesley’s sentence, read out by Judge Amber Givens-Davis around 3.30 pm on Wednesday. However, Wesley could be given parole after 30 years.

Wesley’s wife Sini, who entered the court towards the end of Wesley’s trial, did not testify in her husband’s defense. She had been charged with child endangerment but was let off in March this year, after 15 months in jail, due to lack of evidence.

Earlier on Monday, Wesley had pleaded guilty on charges of causing injury to the child by omission that came with a lighter sentence compared to capital murder and tampering with evidence. On Tuesday, in an hour-long testimony, Wesley recounted the night when Sherin died. He apologised for lying to the police, and narrated how Sherin choked while drinking milk, and how he wrapped her in a blue bag and left her lifeless body in a culvert, where it was recovered in a highly decomposed condition, two weeks later.  

On Wednesday, the prosecution cross examined Wesley as well, and dismissed his testimony saying that Sherin choked on her milk. Jason Fine, the prosecutor, said that choking on milk was medically impossible. He also countered Wesley’s claim that Sherin’s body started to get hard after he had been doing CPR on her to apparently revive her. Jason argued that according to the medical examiner’s testimony, the body would not harden very quickly.

In the closing arguments, NBC5 reported that the prosecution said, "This was supposed to be the beginning [for Sherin]. This was supposed to be the man to protect her. He should have loved that little girl and done anything to protect her. He didn’t." The defense, meanwhile, argued that it was inaction that resulted in Sherin’s death, and that Wesley and Sini loved and adored the child.

After three hours of deliberation, the jury decided to sentence Wesley to life.

Wesley and his wife Sini, who were natives of Kerala, adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar in July 2016. Sherin disappeared in October 2017, and Wesley initially claimed that he had sent her out in the wee hours of the morning on October 6 that year as punishment for not drinking her milk. On October 22, 2017, Sherin’s body was recovered from a culvert under a road about a kilometre from the Mathews’ home. The cause of Sherin’s death could not be investigated as the body had decomposed.

Wesley later changed his version, claiming that when he tried to “physically assist” her in drinking milk, and Sherin had choked on the drink. He also admitted that the family had gone out to dinner and left Sherin behind a day before she died.

Meanwhile if Sini had been convicted in the case against her, she would have faced imprisonment for two to 20 years. It is worth noting that because she was dismissed without prejudice, the same or different charges can still be levelled against her at any point in time.

Earlier in April, a court document filed by Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine had stated that the prosecutors believe that Wesley is likely to have neglected and injured the child before her death. The document mentioned details of offenses, including one that accused Wesley of injuring Sherin on or about February 1, 2017, with or without his wife Sini’s help, and causing the child to sustain multiple fractures in her arms and legs “to the bilateral humerus, femur and tibia." Sini and Wesley reportedly did not reveal these injuries for at least one week, and the “history provided to doctors was not consistent with how the injuries occurred.”

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