A grand jury in Dallas County, Texas, on Friday, indicted Indian American couple Wesley and Sini Mathews in the disappearance and death of their adopted daughter Sherin Mathews last October.
According to the indictment, Wesley Mathews, who is charged with capital murder, “did unlawfully then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of” the three-year-old girl.
Announcing the charges at a press conference, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said capital murder carries either a death sentence or life in prison. But she added that the prosecutor has not decided whether to pursue death.
Johnson said the grand jury also indicted Mathews for causing injury to the child, which carries jail time of anywhere from five years to 99 years.
The India-born information technology professional has also been charged with two second degree felony offences: abandoning the child and for tampering with evidence. Both carry prison time of between two years and 20 years.
Mathews’ wife, Sini, was indicted for abandoning the child, which could get up to 20 years of jail time.
According to the indictment, Sherin, who was adopted by the couple from an adoption home in India, was killed “by a manner and means unknown to the Grand Jury.” The “defendant did use a deadly weapon, the exact nature and description of which is unknown to the Grand Jury,” it said.
Sherin Mathews was reported missing on October 7. Wesley Mathews initially told police that the girl went missing 15 minutes after he sent her out of home as a punishment for not drinking milk.
Her body was recovered from a culvert, a mile away from the Mathews’ Richardson, TX, home on October 24.
Wesley Mathews later changed his story and told police that his daughter died while he “physically assisted” her to drink milk.
After the incident, the couple’s four-year-old biological daughter was removed and placed with an extended family.