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Texas father wanted to 'do something nice' when he wrapped Sherin Mathews' body in trashbag

The adoptive father of Sherin Mathews pleaded guilty to injury to a child by omission. He said he believed Sherin would come back to him, like Lazarus.
Wesley Mathews

Updated at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday with Wesley Mathews' testimony. 

Wesley Mathews didn't call 911 after his 3-year-old daughter died because he "was not ready to give up on my child," he testified Tuesday. 

Mathews said he refused to believe his daughter, Sherin Mathews, was fully dead when he wrapped her tiny body in a blue plastic bag and hid it in a culvert near the family's Richardson home. 

"I refused to believe that my child had completely gone from the world," Mathews testified Tuesday. 

He said he believed if he "prayed hard and strong enough" Sherin Mathews might be resurrected, like Lazarus. 

The father reported Sherin missing after he put her outside Oct. 7, 2017, because she wouldn't drink her milk. Her badly decomposed body was found 15 days later in a culvert.

Mathews, 39, pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of injury to a child by omission in Sherin's death in October 2017. He was originally charged with capital murder. 

A jury of four women and eight men will decide Mathews' fate. He faces up to life in prison.  

Mathews said he regrets his actions the night his daughter died and realizes he could have done more to help her. 

"It's just not fair that my heart still beats like my child's heart is not," he said. 

Dumped in a culvert 

Prosecutors showed jurors photos on Tuesday of Sherin's body dumped in the culvert. 

Several jurors were visibly upset seeing the photos during the second day of the sentencing trial. 

RELATED: Richardson father didn't kill Sherin Mathews, is guilty of not calling 911, defense says

"I know I wanted do something honorable, do something nice," Mathews told police of wrapping his daughter's body in a garbage bag before stowing her in the cargo area of his car. 

Jurors watched recorded videos of the father describing trying to make Sherin drink milk in the hours before she died. 

Credit: Courtesy photo
Sherin Mathews

Wesley Mathews described leaving Sherin alone while he took his wife and biological daughter to dinner. He told investigators they had not left the girl alone before. 

Once the family was home, Mathews put the girl in the garage, so she would drink her milk. 

He said he also threatened to put the girl outside with coyotes "to build the fear factor in her." 

Sherin took a large gulp of milk and then started choking, Wesley Mathews told investigators during the recorded interview. 

Then the child went silent and the father felt her body go cold and stiff. 

RELATED: From A to Z: The Sherin Mathews case

'My child had gone from me'

Mathews testified he didn't wake up his wife, Sini Mathews, after their adopted daughter choked on milk, because he was trying to save Sherin. 

Though Sini Mathews is a registered nurse, Wesley Mathews testified he believed there wasn't time to get her for help. 

"In a very quick time, my child had gone from me," Wesley Mathews testified. 

That's when he wrapped her in a bag and dumped her body blocks from the family home. 

He said he didn't want his wife to see Sherin's lifeless body, and he wanted his daughter's body to remain somewhere close to him. 

"I wanted it to be somewhere I could see by my house," Mathews said. 

Surveillance video outside a house shows Mathews' vehicle leave his home at 4:19 a.m. and return 4:53 a.m. 

Mathews told police he believed his daughter was alive but missing. 

"Is Sherin alive?" an investigator asks in one of the videos jurors watched. 

"Yes. Let's look for her," Mathews responds. 

"She's not in the trees," the investigator says. 

"We're not looking good enough... She's alive, sir. She's alive," Mathews said. 

The couple adopted Sherin in the summer of 2016. Prior to her adoption, Sherin was abandoned by her biological parents in Gaya, India, and taken to a local orphanage in Nalanda. 

"We get a girl with genetic conditions," Mathews told police. "We were upset. The agency was blindsided too." 

Sherin was undernourished and had food aversions. 

Mathews testified he wanted Sherin to drink her milk because he was afraid Child Protective Services would be called if Sherin didn't get enough to eat. 

And once the child was dead, he was afraid CPS would tear his family apart. 

"If I had applied common sense, my child would be with me," he testified. 

He said he would still have Sherin and his biological daughter together. 

"I failed my Sherin, and I failed my family," he said. 

Testimony will resume in the sentencing trial Wednesday morning. 

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