The only charge against the adoptive mother of a Richardson girl found dead in a drainage culvert in 2017 has been dropped.
Sini Mathews had been charged with child abandonment in connection with the death of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. But the charge was unexpectedly dropped on Friday.
The Dallas County District Attorney's office said in a statement that they had opted to dismiss the case against Sini "due to the determination there is not enough prima facie evidence to proceed with the allegations in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt."
"I want to thank the D.A.'s office for dismissing this case,” Sini said. “And I'm looking forward to being reunited with my daughter."
Sini’s attorneys credited the new District Attorney Judge John Cruezot with the dismissal of her case.
Sini was accused of abandoning Sherin when she and her husband, Wesley Mathews, and their 4-year-old biological daughter went out to eat at On the Border. At the time of her arrest, Richardson PD said an itemized receipt and an interview with a waiter at the restaurant helped build their case of child abandonment.
“There were some issues about what eyewitness testimony that had in regards to which child was at the restaurant that night,” said Heath Harris, one of Sini’s attorneys. “Because of those issues, even though the husband had said the child was left at home you still need something else to corroborate it because he is a co-defendant.”
According to a court document filed in Wesley’s case in January, the manager of the restaurant explained that just because the receipt said three guests does not automatically mean only three people were at the table.
“This DA’s office knows they would have had problems meeting their burden of proof at trial,” Harris said.
It was the morning after that dinner out when the case became major news.
Sherin’s adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, originally reported her missing in Oct. 2017 and then later told police she died when he forced her to drink her milk. She was found dead weeks later in a culvert. Wesley has been charged with capital murder in the case as well as injury to a child, tampering with evidence and abandonment.
Sini would not address her husband's case or much about what's next for her.
A year ago, the Mathews relinquished their parental rights to their biological daughter. The judge warned that the decision was permanent and could not be reversed.
Family attorney Thelma Clardy is not affiliated with the case. She says the family reunion could prove difficult. But she admits Sini may still have a case.
“It's possible,” she said. “It's difficult, but parents always have the rights to appeal something, whether they prevail or not. They could always go back and say they were under duress.”
Clardy says Sini could also attempt to work out some sort of visitation plan with the relatives if they're open to it.
“What the court is ultimately going to look at is what's in the best interest of the child,” Clardy said.
Even so, Harris says his client's focus will be on reuniting with that child, who is now living with relatives in Houston, and getting a new nursing job.
“She's a registered nurse. Because the case has been dismissed, she's not going to lose her license,” Harris explained. “She can go back to nursing and trying to provide for her family. That's what she's going to do: everything she can to get back to her baby.”
The Richardson Police Department released a statement that they are disappointed with this turn of events. The department points out a grand jury returned an indictment against Sini and none of her requests for a bond reduction had been granted over more than a year. The case was dismissed without prejudice, which means prosecutors could refile the case later.
The autopsy found Sherin died of homicidal violence, but the specific circumstances were not revealed and the weapon is described as unknown.
Wesley is set to go on trial for capital murder in May. He remains behind bars with a bond of $1 million.