Prosecutors and Wesley Mathews’ defense attorneys met in court Friday morning for a pre-trial hearing.
Mathews appeared in jail garb, shackled at the waist and feet.
The Richardson man faces life in prison if convicted of murdering his three-year-old daughter, Sherin Mathews, in October 2017.
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The girl’s body was discovered in a culvert near the family’s home two weeks after being reported missing by Mathews.
Mathews told police he ‘physically’ assisted’ Sherin in drinking milk, she choked and died in his arms.
Mathews told police he then disposed of the body with the intention of returning and giving her a proper burial.
There were two issues discussed in open court, including the state’s intent to bring forward evidence in the punishment phase of the trial that prosecutors say shows Sherin suffered injuries previous to her death in October of 2017.
Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine is asking the court to allow evidence to be presented that show Sherin suffered five fractures in a five month period, four of which were not reported by her parents Sini and Wesley Mathews.
Sherin was taken to the hospital in September 2016 with a broken arm, said Fine. Her parents told hospital staff Sherin had fallen off the of the couch. Fine told Judge Amber Givens-Davis that could be consistent with the injury the child suffered.
However, Sherin suffered two other fractures including a shoulder injury in February 8, 2017. The girl was taken to the hospital after her shoulder reportedly became inflamed and she suffered an infection to her joints and bones. Fine contends a doctor intends to testify the injuries are consistent with both arms being pulled at the same time. Furthermore, the doctor intends to testify the injury appears to have happened one week before the child was brought in to see medical professionals.
A doctor then performed a survey of 23 bones on Sherin’s body and found two additional fractures, not previously reported, Fine said in court: fractures to the femur and tibia.
The injury to the femur, he said, happened one to three months before February 2017.
The doctor, Fine said, will not be able to testify what type of fracture it was or if it was caused by abuse. But he contends, it was significant and painful and shows that Sherin’s parents should have reported it earlier and did not.
The three-year-old also suffered an ankle fracture consistent with her foot being yanked and not an accident. This, Fine said, is consistent with an act of abuse.
In all, prosecutors say Sherin suffered five fractures in a five month period before her death on October 6, 2017.
Sherin was not under the care of a babysitter or daycare so any abuse the child suffered had to have happened at the hands of Wesley alone or with the help of Sini Mathews, the state claims.
Fine also intends to introduce evidence of a text message Sini sent Wesley from the hospital in which she reportedly says: “This makes sense why her bones break”
To which Wesley responds: “Oh yeah.”
The state says this shows he was aware of multiple fractures that were not previously reported.
The Mathews adopted Sherin from an Indian orphanage in July 2016.
The state says from July to August 2016 medical records show Sherin was gaining weight and eating.
However between September 2016 and February 2017, medical records show Sherin was not thriving.
By February, the state contends, Sherin’s weight was far behind where it should have been.
The child was 22 pounds when she was reported missing.
The state says this shows neglect by Wesley, either alone or with the help of Sini and that the jury should hear about it.
Mathews’ defense attorneys argued there is no way for prosecutors to show who is responsible for injuries done to the child.
It has been documented Sini took Sherin to numerous therapy sessions so there is the potential that Sherin was hurt by a person other than her parents.
If the state cannot link the allegation to Mathews it could cause him great harm in the punishment phase, argued his attorney.
Evidence, his defense said, also shows Sini usually took Sherin to doctors appointments while Wesley was working. So if there are any appointments that were missed or canceled, that is not his action, his defense said.
Another issue the judge will decide on is whether Mathews will be shackled during his trial. Mathews was shackled at the waist and feet during the pre-trial hearing. His defense team argues Mathews has not had any disciplinary issues while incarcerated since 2017.
A Dallas County Sheriff’s Office bailiff testified on behalf of the state about the need for some kind of restraint given the charges against Mathews and because he was placed on suicide watch.
Judge Amber Givens-Davis will decide on both matters on June 11.
Wesley Mathews capital murder trial is set to begin June 24.
If found guilty, he could face life in prison.