Texas Appeals Court Refuses to Review Life Sentence of Wesley Mathews in Daughter Sherin’s Death
The life sentence appeal of Indian American Wesley Mathews was denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last month. (Richardson Police Department/Facebook photo)
The highest criminal court in Texas, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, last month refused to review the life sentence of Wesley Mathews for the 2017 death of his 3-year-old daughter, Sherin Mathews.
The Dallas News reports that the Indian American father, 40, of Richardson, argued he deserves a second trial because jurors were exposed to emotionally charged testimony and photos of Sherin’s badly decomposed body that would have unfairly upset them, among other issues.
The jury sentenced Mathews in 2019 to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years (see India-West article here: https://bit.ly/2ZncYgs).
Sherin’s body was found hidden in a Richardson culvert two weeks after Mathews reported her missing in October 2017. She was identified by dental records because of the severe decomposition, and a cause of death could not be determined, according to testimony at trial.
Mathews initially told police Sherin disappeared after he left her alone outside as punishment for not drinking her milk. He later told police and jurors that Sherin died after choking on milk in the family garage and, in a panic, he drove to a nearby culvert and disposed of her body.
Doctors testified it was unlikely Sherin choked on milk, according to reports.
Mathews was facing a capital murder trial and, if convicted, could have been sentenced life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. Instead, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of injury to a child by omission. But he chose to have a jury decide his punishment.
A pediatrician who had treated Sherin for shoulder injuries that the doctor suspected were intentionally inflicted testified about her anger over Sherin’s death, reports said.
Through his lawyer, Michael Casillas, Mathews argued that he was improperly accused of causing injuries that could no longer be proved and that the doctor was inappropriately allowed to talk about emotions that could influence jurors, the Dallas News report added.
“The law is clear that punishment in our system is not supposed to be vengeance,” Casillas said, according to the report.
Mathews and his wife, Sini Mathews, adopted Sherin from India in 2016. They had an older biological daughter who was born in December 2013. Prosecutors argued the couple did not treat Sherin as well as their biological daughter. In text messages, Mathews said Sherin had “defects,” reports said.
Sherin needed special medical care when she was brought to Texas and was treated for developmental delays. She was unusually small for her age and struggled with eating and drinking enough to be healthy. Doctors discouraged her parents from force feeding Sherin, the Dallas News report notes.
Volunteers and other law enforcement agencies helped Richardson police search for Sherin for two weeks before cadaver dogs found her remains in the culvert, it said.
Mathews then told police he had performed CPR on Sherin when she choked on milk and, after realizing she was dead, put her body in a recycling bag and drove around until he found the culvert.
Sini Mathews, a registered nurse, was asleep inside the house, he said. A charge against Sini Mathews of abandoning or endangering a child was eventually dropped, the report said.