DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The adoptive mother and father of deceased 3-year-old Sherin Mathews are back in court this morning. Wesley and Sini Mathews are trying to regain custody of their 4-year-old biological daughter.
The child abuse specialist from Children’s Health testified that Sherin was referred to a clinic for children at risk of abuse back in February, because doctors had noticed that her weight was dropping. The doctor said Sherin’s parents took her to the clinic for months, but in July asked that they be allowed to take the little girl back to her regular pediatrician because she was gaining weight.
The doctor had previously testified that Sherin had a series of broken bones and injuries that were in various stages of healing, which could not have happened prior to her adoption.
At times, last week’s custody hearing seemed like a criminal court proceeding, with both parents repeatedly pleading the Fifth when asked about what happened to Sherin. The couple’s lawyers said that this was at their direction, and they will worry later about the message that it could send to the public and potential jurors.
Sherin’s adoptive parents have both been arrested. Ms. Mathews is charged with endangering her child while adoptive father Wesley Mathews has been charged with injury to a child. Officials have not yet said exactly how Sherin died.
The toddler was reported as missing before being found dead in a culvert near the family’s Richardson home. Police explained that Sherin’s parents left her home alone for more than an hour while they went to dinner with their biological daughter. That child was taken away from the couple and sent to stay with relatives when Sherin went missing in October.
Mr. Mathews originally told authorities that he was punishing Sherin at 3:00 a.m. for not drinking her milk. He ordered her to go into the family’s backyard and stand alone by a tree. When he returned about 15 minutes later, he said, the little girl was no longer there.
The 37-year-old father then changed his story, according to arrest affidavits, claiming that he “physically assisted” Sherin with drinking milk. The toddler started to choke and, after coughing for a bit, her breathing began to slow down. When he could no longer feel the girl’s pulse, Mr. Mathews “believed she had died” and removed Sherin’s body from the home.
Mr. Mathews is now in jail on a $1 million bond, while Ms. Mathews is expected to be released from jail soon. The 35-year-old mother had her bond reduced from $250,000 to $100,000 last week. If she is indeed released, she will be required to wear an electronic ankle monitor, as she is said to be a flight risk who could try to flee to her native country of India.