A judge's ruling Tuesday means the parents of a dead Richardson 3-year-old girl have lost the right to see their biological child, for the time being.
Wesley and Sini Mathews were attempting to keep the visitation rights for their 4-year-old biological daughter in the wake of the death of adopted daughter Sherin Mathews.
The state convinced a judge that Sini and Wesley are not fit to be parents due to what happened to Sherin and shouldn’t be able to visit their biological daughter. The 4-year-old will remain living with relatives outside Houston.
CPS officials typically try to reunite children with their parents, but the judge ruled CPS doesn't have to do that in this case. A hearing to determine a permanent cutoff of parental rights will likely take place sometime in 2018.
Police arrested Sini on charges of child endangerment after the death of 3-year-old Sherin. Investigators determined she left Sherin home alone while she, her husband and their older daughter went out for dinner. The next day, Wesley Mathews reported Sherin was missing. Her body was later found in a culvert near the family’s home.
Wesley is facing more serious charges of injury to a child. Police said he told them his daughter died choking on milk that he forced her to drink. He admitted to moving her body. He reportedly turned off the location tracking on his phone when he's believed to have taken Sherin's body to the culvert.
A Richardson police detective shared new details about what Wesley told him in the second version of events. He said that Wesley was forcing her to drink milk from a bottle while she was in the garage and he said that she was standing up when she choked.
The detective questioned how she could choke while standing up. Wesley then told the detective Sherin stopped breathing, but he never called 911 or summoned his wife, who's a nurse, for help.
The detective also said Sherin’s body was “stiff and cold” when he decided to dispose of the body.
“He put Sherin in the back of the car with a sack of trash and went to a shopping center nearby,” Det. Jules Farmer said. “Went to a shopping center where he disposed of the trash, and then drove around a little more until he put Sherin in the culvert where were found her body.”
The detective testified that Sini told police she later woke to find Wesley at the breakfast table.
“She said he had a weird look on his face,” Farmer said. “She asked him where Sherin was.”
The extent of what Sini knew was unclear, but the detective testified that she sat at the table with her husband while crying and praying for hours.
A CPS caseworker testified on Tuesday that Sini Mathews showed no emotion when the agency removed their biological daughter from the home.
“I took note of it because typically a mother would be really upset about her child being removed,” caseworker Kelly Mitchell said.
She added that Sini didn't seem upset with Wesley after he got out of jail.
Mitchell says while she was at the home to remove the biological daughter, she noticed pictures of that daughter in the home but none of Sherin.
The parents' attorney, Rafael De La Garza defended that. He said they loved their children the same, and Sherin's death was an accident.
“This child was very disfigured. You're not going to post an unflattering picture of a child for everybody to seem,” he said. “There weren't very flattering pictures. So why take a picture? It's hard to judge people unless you've followed in their footsteps. And Mr. Mathews and his wife handled things the way they did. Whether we can sit back now and try to judge them for it, that's for another day.”
Authorities are still waiting on scientific testing to come back, including the autopsy.
Both Sini and Wesley attended Tuesday's hearing, but the mom and dad remain in detention at Dallas County Jail. The parents have not lost their parental rights, but CPS could still pursue that.