Prosecutors Detail Abuse as Richardson Toddler's Parents Take the 5th at Custody Hearing

Wesley and Sherin Mathews
Wesley and Sherin Mathews Richardson Police Department
Despite the silence of Wesley and Sini Mathews, a Wednesday afternoon custody hearing spoke volumes about what their daughter allegedly endured at their hands after her adoption from India in 2016. Prosecutors seeking to terminate Wesley Mathews' custody of the couple's other daughter detailed the abuse and inattention they say led to 3-year-old Sherin Mathews' death Oct. 7 as they questioned her parents in a Dallas County courtroom Wednesday.

Wesley Mathews is charged with first-degree injury to a child for his actions the night Sherin died. Sini Mathews is charged with child abandonment for allegedly going out to eat with her husband and other daughter while Sherin was left home alone Oct. 6. At 3 a.m. the next morning, according to a statement made by Wesley Mathews, Sherin choked and died as he tried to get her to drink milk in the family's garage.

Sini Mathews took the stand first Wednesday afternoon. She answered one question, telling the court that she intended to attend supervised visits with her living daughter once she posts her $100,000 bail. She declined to answer dozens of other questions.

"I plead my 5th," she said when asked about why her Sherin, punished by Wesley Mathews for not drinking her milk the night of her death, seemed able to eat and drink fine when at her grandmother's house or a restaurant.

"I plead my 5th," Sini Mathews said again when prosecutors asked her about the multiple broken bones doctors and nurses at Children's Medical Center observed as they treated Sherin Mathews in early 2017.

She also declined to answer whether she'd told detectives that Wesley Mathews said he'd do anything to protect her and whether she'd told witnesses that a child adopted from India was "basically damaged goods."
click to enlarge Sini Mathews - RICHARDSON PD
Sini Mathews
Richardson PD
Like his wife, Wesley Mathews heeded the advice of his attorney, who flashed five fingers at his client every time prosecutors asked a question. He refused to answer questions about his whereabouts between 4:19 and 4:53 a.m. the morning he's alleged to have placed his dead daughter's body in a culvert near the family home and a more specific question about whether he killed his daughter. "I plead the 5th," Wesley Mathews said.

After prosecutors gave up on questioning the Mathewses, they called Dr. Susan Dakil, a pediatrician certified in child abuse pediatrics, to discuss her review of Sherin Mathews' medical records earlier this year. Dakil testified that X-rays revealed multiple fractures in Sherin's arms and legs. Because of the way the injuries had healed, Dakil said, she was confident that the injuries happened after her adoption. The doctor also said she didn't believe Sini Mathews' assertion that Sherin broke her elbow when her older sister pushed her off the couch.

When Dakil reported her findings to Sini Mathews, the mother said she disagreed with the findings and told the pediatrician that a report to CPS would "ruin her weekend."

At 4 p.m., the hearing concluded for the day with two witnesses still to testify. It will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young