Medical examiners found evidence of homicidal violence when they performed an autopsy on 3-year-old Sherin Mathews' body, according to a newly released report.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office said that while Sherin's manner of death was homicidal violence, her exact cause of death could not be determined because of extensive decomposition. Homicidal violence means someone caused her death either intentionally or through negligence.
Sherin was falsely reported missing by her father back in October. When her body was later found in a drainage ditch, police said he changed his story and said she died while drinking milk.
Both of the 3-year-old's adoptive parents were arrested and remain in jail. Wesley Mathews was charged with injury to a child and Sini Mathews was charged with child endangerment. They are both in a custody battle for their biological 4-year-old daughter.
Wednesday's custody hearing before a court judge only lasted three minutes. Neither Wesley or Sini were present. Child Protective Services is seeking to terminate the couple's parental rights for their 4-year-old biological child. A judge on Wednesday set a trial date for Jan. 26.
"It got reset until the twenty-sixth, then we'll make a comment then," explained Wesley's attorney.
Mitch Nolte, an attorney for Sini, said he has seen a copy of the full autopsy report.
"Based on the autopsy results, there was nothing on those results that indicate Sini Matthews had anything to do with Sherin's death," Nolte said.
"Well, that's his opinion," said Richardson Police Sgt. Kevin Perlich. "We will forward all the information that we have to the district attorney's office."
Richardson police have only confirmed that the report says Sherin died from homicidal violence and did not die of natural causes.
"Some of the particular details that are in the report are items that will come out in the court proceeding," Perlich said. "And for that reason, we are restricting the exact details."
For now, police aren't saying if the report spells out exactly how Sherin died, details of injuries she might have had or how the report compares to Wesley' claims that she choked while drinking a glass of milk.
"She died most likely at the hands of another individual," Perlich said. "We believe we have a very strong case. We are confident in the case that we have, and we are going to move forward with that."
Police say case and autopsy results have been forwarded to the DA's office. The case will now go to a grand jury, which will decide if the appropriate charges have been filed.
Sherin's sister is currently living with relatives. A judge has already taken away her parents' visitation rights. If their parental rights are also terminated, she could be placed up for adoption.
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