The father of Sherin Mathews, a 3- year-old Indian girl whose body was found near their suburban Dallas home less than a year after she was adopted from an Indian orphanage, was on Saturday indicted for capital murder by a grand jury. He could get a death penalty if convicted of the charges.
Sherin, reported missing on October 7, was found dead in a culvert about 1 km from her home on October 22 by a cadaver dog during a massive search for the missing toddler.
"We can't go into details, but based on that autopsy report, we were able to determine that we can seek capital murder for this case," Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said at a news conference announcing the indictment.
Dallas County court records show 37-year-old Wesley also faces charges of abandoning a child and tampering with evidence.
Wesley, the toddler's adoptive father, was also indicted by a Dallas County grand jury on charges of abandoning a child and tampering with evidence.
Wesley had initially told police that Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 am for not drinking her milk. When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.
The Medical Examiner's office ruled last week the toddler died of "homicidal violence."
Prosecutors are not revealing what else they may know about how the little girl was killed.
"The evidence is still unfolding in this case. We don't want anything to jeopardize this case. We think that we have a great case, we plan to pursue this case vigorously, and we don't want anything to hamper it in any kind of way," Johnson said.
In a statement on Friday, Mitchell Nolte and Gregg Gibbs, attorneys for Sini Mathews, said, "The indictments handed down today by a Dallas County Grand Jury confirm what we have previously stated. Sini Mathews had nothing to do with the tragic death of Sherin Mathews."
Wesley was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison. He is still in the Dallas County jail on a USD 1 million bond.
His wife, 35-year-old Sini Mathews, is also in jail, held on a USD 100,000 bond for child endangerment/abandoning for allegedly leaving Sherin home alone while she, her husband, and their other daughter went to dinner on October 6, the night before Wesley reported Sherin missing.