A jury sentenced a North Texas father Wednesday to life in prison in the 2017 death of his 3-year-old daughter, whom he claims choked on milk before he panicked and placed her body in a culvert. Her body was found about two weeks later. The Dallas County jury deliberated 1½ hours in the punishment phase of Wesley Mathews, 39, in the death of Sherin Mathews. He will be eligible for parole after 30 years' imprisonment, the AP reports. Mathews was charged with capital murder but pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of injury to a child by omission. Defense attorney Rafael De La Garza asked jurors to impose a lesser punishment because the child's death was the result of inaction by her father. The prosecution was unable to call any witness who saw Mathews mistreat his daughter, De La Garza said.
Prosecutors told jurors, however, that Mathews lied about how his daughter died, gave conflicting accounts, and showed no remorse over the death of his daughter, who was adopted from an orphanage in India. The claim that Sherin choked on milk cannot be believed because a medical examiner testified that it's unlikely a child can die in such a way, prosecutors said. Mathews placed the girl's body in a plastic bag and drove it to a culvert not far from their home, according to prosecutors and police. An autopsy determined she died from homicidal violence. 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. His wife, Sini Mathews, was charged with child abandonment but prosecutors dropped it for lack of evidence. (A doctor had reported to Child Services that Sherin possibly was being abused.)