Sini Mathews, the Indian-American foster mother of three-year-old special needs girl Sherin Mathews who was found dead in a culvert in suburban Dallas in 2017, was freed from jail after 15 months as the child endangerment charges against her have been dropped in the US due to lack of evidence. The Dallas County District Attorney's Office said on Friday that there was not enough evidence to proceed, NBCDFW news reported.
Sherin, who was adopted by Wesley Mathews and Sini in 2016, was found dead in a culvert near the family's home in Richardson, Texas, on October 22, 2017, two weeks after her family reported her missing. Sini, who was 35 at the time of her arrest, was charged after prosecutors said she left her adopted daughter home alone while she and her husband Wesley went to dinner with their 4-year-old biological daughter on the night before the child was reported missing, the report said.
Had she been convicted, she would have faced between two and 20 years behind bars, it said. The Indian-American couple from Kerala had adopted the girl from an orphanage in Bihar.
The charge was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it is possible the same or different charges could be levelled against her at any time, according to the report. Sini, while coming out of the jail, told NBC5 that she felt "blessed" the charges were dismissed and that she's looking forward to being reunited with her biological daughter, who has been living with family members in Houston.
She said that the past 15 months she spent in jail awaiting trial were "challenging".
Asked if she loved Sherin, Sini responded: "Yes, absolutely. No doubt". Her husband Wesley, who was 38 at the time of his arrest, still faces a capital murder charge in connection with his daughter's death and he is being held on a USD 1 million bond. His trial is set for May.
In a letter to the 282nd Criminal District Court, the Dallas County District Attorney wrote that "after extensive investigation, it has been determined that the state cannot prove this matter beyond a reasonable doubt at this time... the state respectfully requests that this case be dismissed without prejudice."
Richardson police, which probed Sherin's death and charged Sini with child endangerment, said in a statement that they were disappointed.
"While we are disappointed with this turn of events, we will continue to work with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office to ensure justice is done," Richardson police said.
Wesley, who still faces a capital murder charge in connection with the case, initially told the police that his daughter had gone missing from outside the house. He had made her stand outside the house at 3 am as punishment for not finishing her milk. Sherin was missing when he went back for her, Wesley had contended.
He is being held on a USD 1 million bond and his trial is scheduled for May.
Wesley changed his story later and told investigators that Sherin died after choking on milk. He admitted to putting her body in the culvert near their home in Richardson in suburban Dallas.
Accused of killing the Indian girl, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office which released Sherin' autopsy report listed the cause of death as a homicide and the manner as homicidal violence.
The story of Sherin's whereabouts and her tragic death in 2017 made headlines worldwide.