Wesley Mathews, the Indian-American foster father of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, will continue to serve his life sentence after a Texas court denied a new trial in the tragic death of the Indian toddler in 2017, in a case that attracted much international attention.
Mathews, 39, who was sentenced to life by a Dallas County jury on June 26 in connection with the death of his adopted daughter, was denied a motion for a new trial on Thursday, US media reported.
In June, Mathews pleaded guilty to injuring a child by omission. After the guilty plea, jurors decided his sentence of life in prison, a punishment he said he would willingly serve.
Sherin was initially reported as being missing in October 2017 after her father claimed he forced her to stand outside, alone at 3 am as punishment for not drinking her milk.
He later admitted she died when he “physically assisted” her in drinking the milk and got chocked. Sherin’s highly decomposed body was found 15 days later from a culvert near her home by a cadaver dog.
The defence team for Mathews filed a motion for a new trial last month, arguing that “photographs of the remains of the decedent, both where her body was discovered and in the autopsy suite” were so prejudicial as to deny Mathews a fair trial.
The lawyers also argued prosecutors failed to prove Mathews was responsible for broken bones Sherin suffered in his care, the report said.
Based this, Mathews’ defence filed a motion for a new trial. That motion was denied on Thursday and now his team is expected to file an appeal, NBC News reported.
Mathews is currently serving a life sentence and will not be eligible for parole until 2047, when he will be in his late 60s, the report said.
Police initially charged Sherin’s foster mother Sini with child abandonment in November 2017, after Mathews told officials that the couple left the toddler alone the night of her death while they went to dinner with their biological daughter.
The case against Sini, a registered nurse, was later dismissed after the Dallas County District Attorney said there was not enough evidence to prosecute her.
Mathews and his wife Sini, both hailing from Kerala, adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar’s Nalanda district in 2016.
Sherin’s death attracted the attention of the Indian government and then External Affairs Minister late Sushma Swaraj took keen interest in the case and also instructed the Indian mission in Houston to make sure that the Indian toddler received justice.
India revoked the Overseas Citizenship of India immigration status of Mathews and Sini after Sherin’s death. The government also further tightened the adoption process after Sherin’s tragic death.