DALLAS - The adoptive parents of Sherin Mathews have given up their parental rights for their other child.
Wesley and Sini Mathews signed the paperwork to relinquish their rights during a hearing in juvenile court Friday morning. The judge warned that their decision was permanent and could not be reversed.
The Richardson couple’s 3-year-old daughter, who had been adopted from India, was found dead in a drainage culvert last year.
Her father, Wesley, originally reported her missing and then later told police she died when he forced her to drink her milk.
He was charged with capital murder. His wife, Sini, was charged with child abandonment for leaving Sherin home alone while the rest of the family went out to dinner.
The couple lost custody of their surviving 4-year-old biological daughter last month. The state sought to take it a step further and terminate their rights permanently.
It was a surprising turn after both parents spent months seeking custody. Mitch Nolte, who is an attorney for Sini, said he both parents made the extremely difficult decision to give up their parental rights because they thought it was the best thing for their daughter.
“I think the best thing we can say today is that both parents made an extremely difficult decision to give up their parental rights,” Nolte said.
The little girl is currently living with relatives near Houston. They have children of their own and plan to adopt her.
Child Protective Services spokesperson Marissa Gonzales says they conducted a review of that home and believes it is a safe place.
"They had to go thru an extensive at home study,” she explained. “You go to the home and check it out very carefully. Vet their backgrounds and family dynamics. Check the safety of the home itself."
Under the agreement, the Mathews can receive supervised visitation with their daughter even if they remain in jail.
Vonda Bailey is a family law attorney not associated with the case. She says that may be why they agreed to the deal.
“In contrast with an involuntary termination, the court has the opportunity to give you some limited access to your children,” she explained.
The district attorney has not decided whether to pursue a death penalty case against Wesley.
The autopsy found Sherin died of homicidal violence, but the specific circumstances were not revealed and the weapon is described as unknown.
All of that is being closely scrutinized by Wesley’s attorneys.
Sini is being held on $250,000. Wesley’s bond is more than $2 million.