"The child was very disfigured. You're not going to post an unflattering picture of a child for everybody to see."
This is what attorney Rafael De La Garza, representing Wesley Mathews, told media persons on Tuesday. The attorney was talking about the 3-year-old Indian-American girl child Sherin Mathews, whose body was recovered from a culvert near her home in Texas two months ago. Her adoptive parents Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews are facing charges of causing felony injury to Sherin, and abandoning and endangering the child.
Earlier, a Dallas court had heard a case relating to the custody of the Mathews’ 3-year-old biological daughter, who is currently placed with a family member in Houston. The prosecution argued that the Mathews had failed to protect Sherin, after which the judge barred the Mathews from having contact with their biological child.
While this means that Child Protective Services (CPS) is not required to assist the Mathews family in regaining custody of their biological daughter, the hearing threw open unsettling information about the Mathews’ relationship with their adopted daughter.
CPS investigator Kelly Mitchell, who testified in court, spoke about the time when she visited the Mathews’ household on October 9 to remove the biological daughter. Sini Mathews remained “eerily calm” and was “unemotional” when the CPS showed up, NBC 5 reported the investigator as saying.
Mitchell also told the court that while she had noticed photographs of the couple’s biological daughter in the living room, there were no photographs of Sherin, and thought “the couple had a different connection with Sherin than they had with their biological daughter.”
Richardson police Detective Jules Farmer, who had earlier said that Sini was a flight risk, testified about the Mathews' statements on what happened on the day Sherin was reported missing.
According to him, Sini told police that she woke up at around 5 am on October 7 (the day Sherin disappeared) and found her husband Wesley sitting at the breakfast table. He had “a weird look on his face,” Sini told the police, adding that she had noticed Sherin was not in her crib and asked Wesley where the child was.
After Wesley was re-arrested following the recovery of Sherin's body from the culvert, he told the police that he became frustrated that the child was not drinking her milk. He then forced her to drink the milk, and she chocked, standing up, state reports. Detective Farmer testified in court that Wesley was holding Sherin when she died and stroked her because she was feeling cold. Later, Wesley wrapped her in a blanket and drove to the culvert where he placed the body.
Detective Farmer said that Wesley called in to the non-emergency number, and not 911, to report Sherin's missing, as he had heard the emergency number wasn't working that day.
Sini Mathews was arrested much later after Wesley was charged for causing felony injury. This was after Wesley told police that the couple had left Sherin alone at home on October 6, because she did not drink her milk and wasn't ready when the family was leaving.
On Tuesday, Detective Farmer testified that Wesley told the police that the family "needed a break."
Sherin was reportedly a child with developmental issues and had disfigurement to an eye. According to the police, Wesley knew about her medical condition during a trip to India before her adoption in July 2016.