Dallas: A Texas man who was accused of killing his adopted daughter pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge the day his trial for capital murder was scheduled to begin.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Wesley Mathews, 39, pleaded guilty to injury to a child by omission. That gives Mathews the chance for a lighter sentence than if he'd been found guilty of capital murder, which carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole. Mathews' sentencing began Monday after his guilty plea.
Mathews reported to police in October 2017 that his daughter was missing. The body of three-year-old Sherin Mathews was found about two weeks later in a culvert near their Richardson home. An autopsy determined she died from homicidal violence.
The couple early last year lost their parental rights to their biological daughter. Sherin was adopted from an Indian orphanage.
Wesley Mathews initially told police Sherin disappeared after he punished her by sending her out in the night to stand by a tree near the home.
He later said he had been trying to get the girl to drink milk in the garage of their home to help her gain weight because he claimed she was malnourished, according to an arrest affidavit filed by Richardson police. Sherin choked and coughed and eventually he felt no pulse and believed the child had died. He allegedly waited hours to call the police. Sherin's body was found two weeks later.
Prosecutors also said the couple didn't adequately feed Sherin, and alleged Mathews broke Sherin's arm and leg in 2017.
His wife Sini was reportedly sleeping at the time of the incident. She was previously charged with child endangerment for allegedly leaving the girl alone in the kitchen on the evening of October 6, 2017, while she, Wesley and their biological daughter, went out to dinner.
The charge against Sini Mathews was dropped in March and she was released from the Dallas County Jail.
Wesley Mathews remains in Dallas County Jail on a $1 million bond.
The Mathews' parental rights over their biological daughter were terminated in January 2018.