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Indian-American adoptive father of Sherin Mathews sentenced to life

Press Trust of India  |  Houston (US) 

Wesley Mathews, the Indian-American foster father of three-year-old Sherin Mathews, was sentenced to life in prison by a judge in Dallas on Wednesday for the death of the Indian toddler in 2017.

Mathews, 39, pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of injury to a child in Sherin's death. He was originally charged with capital murder by authorities in the US state of Texas.

Mathews stared ahead and did not look at jurors as the judge sentenced him to life in prison, US media reports said.

The 12-member jury deliberated Wednesday afternoon for about three hours before coming to a unanimous decision to give Mathews a sentence of life in the death of his adopted daughter, Sherin.

Prosecutors argued that Mathews, hailing from Kerala, killed Sherin in October 2017. She was adopted by Mathews and his wife Sini Mathews from an orphanage in Bihar in 2016.

Mathews claimed she accidentally choked to death on milk.

While prosecutors asked the jury to hand down a life sentence, defence attorney Rafael De La Garza argued that Mathews was a good father who panicked when his daughter choked and did not call for help.

After the verdict was read, De La Garza called the sentence "cruel and unusual punishment", WFAA TV reported.

Mathews initially told police that Sherin went missing on October 7, 2017, after he put her outside their home at 3 am in Richardson, Texas because she would not drink her milk. Her badly decomposed body was found 15 days later in a culvert near the family's home.

His story evolved during the course of the investigation. He originally told police that Sherin was alive when he put her outside.

He later admitted she died when he "physically assisted" her in drinking the milk and got chocked.

On the witness stand during the sentencing trial, Mathews said he panicked after his daughter's accidental death. He said he wrapped her body in a blue trash bag and put her in a culvert so she would be near the home.

Police charged Sherin's foster mother Sini with child abandonment in November 2017, after her husband told officials the couple left the toddler alone the night of her death while they went to dinner with their biological daughter.

Sini's case was dismissed in March this year after prosecutors said they could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 27 2019. 06:15 IST
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