In the ongoing murder trial against Wesley Mathews, the adoptive father accused of killing three-year-old special needs child Sherin in Texas in October 2017, Wesley took to the witness stand on Tuesday and gave a lengthy testimony that lasted about an hour.
Recounting the events of the night that Sherin died, Wesley changed his narrative yet again, and revealed that it was he who had dumped the childâ€™s body in the culvert where she was found.
Wesley, who on Monday pleaded guilty on a lesser charge of causing injury by omission, is also charged with capital murder and tampering of evidence.
Testifying in his defence, an emotional Wesley revealed that he was afraid that the Child Protection Services would get involved if Sherinâ€™s health did not improve, and health officials had told him that Sherin needed to drink milk to grow. He revealed that Sherin started choking when he tried to â€śphysically assistâ€ť her in drinking milk on the night of October 6, 2017.
In his earlier statement, Wesley had said that he had left Sherin outside the house in the late hours of the night as punishment for not drinking milk, and that she had disappeared when he had gone out to check on her. We know from Wesleyâ€™s latest testimony now that it was he who wrapped Sherinâ€™s body in a blue plastic bag and left it the culvert, where it was found, highly decomposed, two weeks later.
Wesley also admitted that he lied to police officials. â€śPlease find it in your hearts to forgive me,â€ť Wesley said, towards the beginning of his testimony. â€śI want you to know that I detest myself for being untruthful to police officers.â€ť
The night of Sherinâ€™s death
Wesley allegedly told Sherin several times that night to finish her milk while he waited. At some point they decided to go to the garage, which Wesley said he had just cleaned out. There, when Sherin was still not drinking milk. Wesley urged her yet again and told her to hurry up.
â€śIt came out much louder than I expected and startled her. Immediately she tried to swallow what was in her mouth, started crying at the same time. As a result, she started choking and coughing pretty soon. Her coughing didnâ€™t subside. So, I picked her up, rubbed her back and cupped her back. But it (the coughing) wasnâ€™t subsiding [â€¦] it was getting worse,â€ť Wesley told the jury.
Ultimately, Wesley laid her on the floor as he felt Sherinâ€™s body being unable to support her neck. â€śHer breathing had gotten heavier. I tried to call mama (Sini) and tried to gently shake Sherin so that she would be out of that spell. But nothing was working. Pretty soon, her head started [rolling] in either direction, and then came to a still,â€ť he added.
When asked why he did not call his wife, Sini, who is a nurse, or call 911, when Sherin started choking, Wesley said that he did not want to stop doing CPR on Sherin. â€śI kept on giving CPR [â€¦] hoping that it will work and my baby would come back to me.â€ť â€śI was just stunned by the whole thing and could not believe that my baby was gone from me,â€ť he added.
After this, Wesley said he just sat there and prayed and felt an â€śintense fearâ€ť at the thought of CPS arriving. He also said that he did not want Sini to see Sherin's lifeless body, so, after some time, he decided to move the child's body. â€śI wanted to put her body somewhere it could be preserved and protected,â€ť Wesley said.
With the body, he left in the car, looking for a place to â€śpreserveâ€ť Sherinâ€™s body. Then, he came across the culvert. â€śThere is a very likely chance that I can crawl into this culvert with my Sherin, and thereâ€™s going to be a snake in there. I was eagerly hoping and praying that I would be bitten by the snake and I can be there with my child and together we can be in heaven with our lord.â€ť
At some point, he decided to leave the body, and drove home.
When asked in retrospect if he would have done something different, Wesley said that he was driven by fear. If he had been driven by common sense, maybe Sherin would have been here, he said.
Wesley and Sini, a couple hailing from Kerala, had adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar in July 2016.
In March earlier this year, Wesleyâ€™s wife Sini was released after 15 months in jail this year due to insufficient evidence against her. The charges against her for child endangerment were dropped as well.
If Sini had been convicted in the case, 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.
Wesley could now face punishment ranging for probation to life imprisonment.