Wesley Mathews, the Indian-American foster father of three-year-old Sherin Mathews, has appealed against the life sentence awarded to him by a Dallas country court last month for causing Sherin’s death by injury, Dallas Morning News reported on Friday.
The child was found dead in the United States city of Dallas in October 2017, two weeks after her adoptive father Wesley Mathews reported her missing.
Wesley’s attorney, Brook A Busbee, has filed a motion for a new trial in the case this week. Busbee argued that evidence presented against him was prejudicial. The attorney said prosecutors showed the jury a photo of Sherin’s body that prevented Mathews from getting a fair trial.
“Jurors expressed visible emotion when shown the exhibits,” Busbee was quoted as saying.
She also argued that the state lacked evidence to show Wesley was responsible for Sherin’s broken bones while she was in his care and that the material “unfairly prejudiced the jury”.
Wesley has also reportedly appointed a new attorney in his appeal process, NBC reported. It also said that the move to file an appeal or a motion for a new trial was a standard thing.
On June 26, Mathews had left it to the jury to decide his sentence and said that if they sentenced him to life in prison he would “be happy to take it”.
The 12-member jury discussed the case for nearly three hours before coming to a unanimous conclusion to give him a life sentence. He will be eligible for parole after 30 years.
Prosecutor Sherre Thomas had argued that Wesley Mathews’ testimony, in which he claimed that Sherin had accidentally choked on milk, was full of fabrications. Testimonies and medical records prove that it was “medically impossible for a child who is three years old to stand up and choke to death”.
Wesley, who hails from Kerala, pleaded guilty a day before his testimony to a lesser charge of causing injury to the child by omission. He also admitted that fear prevented him from waking his wife, Sini Mathews, a registered nurse, or calling 911 for help.
Sherin Mathews’ parents reported her missing on October 7, 2017, less than a year after they adopted her from India. They claimed that she went missing after Wesley Mathews made her stand in the backyard of their house at 3 am as punishment for not drinking her milk. After authorities found her body two weeks later, Wesley Mathews admitted to the police that he had moved the child’s body but claimed she had choked on milk in the family’s Richardson garage.
Early in January 2018, the Dallas County medical examiner found that Sherin Mathews had died from homicidal violence, which led prosecutors to charge Wesley Mathews with murder.
During the sentencing trial, Wesley Mathews said he had panicked after his daughter’s death and had wrapped her body in a blue trash bag and dumped it in a culvert so that she would be close to home.
In November 2017, the police had charged Sherin Mathews’ foster mother Sini Mathews with child abandonment after her husband told investigators that they had left the girl alone on the night of her death. Sini Mathews’ case was dismissed in March after her guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.