DALLAS – Prosecutors on Friday dropped a child-abandonment charge against a Dallas-area woman who's been in jail for more than a year following the death of her 3-year-old daughter whose body was found in a culvert.
The Dallas County District Attorney's Office said in a statement that it's dropping the charge against 36-year-old Sini Mathews for lack of evidence.
Mathews was being held Friday at the Dallas County jail on a $250,000 bond but was released later in the day.
Mathews' husband, Wesley Mathews, reported to police in October 2017 that their daughter was missing. The body of Sherin Mathews was found about two weeks later in a culvert near their Richardson home . An autopsy determined she died from homicidal violence.
He's facing several charges that include capital murder and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Heath Harris, an attorney for Sini Mathews, said they heard late Thursday that there may be a turn in the case. Up until that point they were preparing for her trial to start April 15.
"As we prepared for trial (the district attorney's office) continued to investigate and tried to corroborate the evidence that they had and in doing that they had questions as to whether they could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," Harris said.
Mathews will not testify against her husband at his trial, Harris said.
"She just wants to do everything she can to reunite with her other daughter," he said.
The couple early last year lost their parental rights to their biological daughter. Sherin was adopted from an Indian orphanage.
Prosecutors declined to elaborate on the factors that led them to drop the charge against Sini Mathews.
Richardson police said in a statement that a grand jury heard the evidence and chose to indict Mathews, and that while incarcerated she had several hearings to reduce her bond but that she was ultimately unsuccessful.
"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," police said.
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 told investigators Sherin had developmental disabilities and was malnourished. He described a special diet regimen in which she had to eat whenever she was awake in order to gain weight. Mathews said he had been trying to get the girl to drink milk in the garage of their home, 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. Investigators wrote that he "then admitted to removing the body from the home."
The owner of the now-closed Mother Teresa Orphanage and Children's Home in the Indian city of Nalanda previously disputed that Sherin was malnourished. The owner, Babita Kumari, said Sherin squinted in one eye, but otherwise had nothing wrong with her when she was adopted in June 2016.