DALLAS - There will be separate trials for the parents accused in the death of their 3-year-old adopted daughter, Sherin Mathews.
Wesley Mathews is charged with murder. His trial is now set for April 5. His wife, Sini Mathews, is charged with child endangerment. Her trial has been moved up to March 15.
Sherin died in October of 2017. Her body was found in a culvert near her Richardson home. Her parents originally told police she had gone missing. Then they said they left her home alone while they went out to eat.
Wesley eventually admitted to putting Sherin’s body in the culvert. He claimed she died after choking on milk.
Defense attorneys for Wesley wanted both parents tried together. Sini’s attorneys convinced the judge that they should be tried separately.
Former Dallas County chief prosecutor Toby Shook doesn't represent anyone in the case, but says the decision to try Sini separately for her child abandonment charge is a victory for her. He believes the state is trying to get her to testify against her husband.
“They can't force her to testify but, you know, if she wants to it's her right to testify against her husband,” he said.
Shook believes the biggest battle for Sini's attorneys will now be keeping much of that information away from the jury.
"If I'm the defense lawyer, I'm saying you need to concentrate and only let evidence in about what happened in the abandonment when they went to dinner. She wasn't harmed at that point and time,” he said. “And if you let evidence in of her death the subsequent day, which my client's not charged with, it's going to be too prejudicial to the jury and harming my client."
Shook says the state will argue the circumstances leading up to Sherin's disappearance and murder are relevant to Sini's case.
"The judge will have to decide if the prejudicial value outweighs the relevant value when she decides whether to admit this type of evidence,” he said.
Both Wesley and Sini are currently in the Dallas County jail.