DALLAS (AP) — A Texas man who was accused of killing his adopted daughter pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge the day his trial for capital murder was scheduled to begin.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Wesley Mathews, 39, pleaded guilty to injury to a child by omission. That gives Mathews the chance for a lighter sentence than if he’d been found guilty of capital murder, which carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole. Mathews’ sentencing began Monday after his guilty plea.
Mathews reported to police in October 2017 that his daughter was missing. The body of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews was found about two weeks later in a culvert near their Richardson home. An autopsy determined she died from homicidal violence.
Mathews was indicted in January in Sherin’s death. In March, prosecutors dropped a child-abandonment charge against Sherin’s mother, Sini Mathews.
The couple early last year lost their parental rights to their biological daughter. Sherin was adopted from an Indian orphanage.
Wesley Mathews initially told police Sherin disappeared after he punished her by sending her out in the night to stand by a tree near the home.
He later said he had been trying to get the girl to drink milk in the garage of their home to help her gain weight because he claimed she was malnourished, according to an arrest affidavit filed by Richardson police. Sherin choked and coughed and eventually he felt no pulse and believed the child had died. He allegedly waited hours to call the police. Sherin’s body was found two weeks later.
Prosecutors also said the couple didn’t adequately feed Sherin, and alleged Mathews broke Sherin’s arm and leg in 2017.