HOUSTON: The foster mother of a three-year- old Indian girl, who was found dead in a culvert in Dallas last month, has managed to get her bail bond slashed to USD 100,000 from USD 250,000 but would remain under house arrest and wear an ankle monitor.
Sini Ann Mathews, 35, was arrested last week after investigators said she and her husband, Wesley Mathews, left their adopted daughter Sherin Matthews at home, without adult supervision for about 90 minutes, while they went out for dinner with their biological daughter on October 6.
Sherin was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a culvert about 1 km from her home in suburban Dallas, Texas, on October 22.
Wesley was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison. He is still in the Dallas County jail on a USD 1 million bond.
During yesterday's hearing, Dallas County Criminal District Court Judge Stephanie Fargo reduced Sini's bond from USD 250,000 to USD 100,000. But she ruled that the Indian- American would remain under house arrest and wear an ankle monitor.
Richardson police argued Mathews was a flight risk and said before she was arrested she asked her pediatrician for shot records so that her 3-year-old biological daughter could "go to India". The judge also asked Sini, a registered nurse, to surrender her passport.
The police said they received information that Sini requested her biological daughter's shot records last month and they believe she may have planned to flee to India, possibly with a fake passport, Richardson police Detective Jules Farmer said.
Sini's defence attorneys were calling for her bond to be reduced to the typical amount for a child endangerment charge (USD 500), which Sini faces after it was discovered she and her husband left Sherin home alone in the hours before her disappearance.
They argued there were no indications Sini planned to flee or produce a fake passport and if she requested shot records for her daughter, it was so the girl could be taken to stay with family in India but Sini would not follow.
The girl is currently staying with family in the Houston area.
Before the judge made her decision, the prosecution did not mince words in closing arguments.
"This woman is wicked enough to leave a 3-year-old in her house while she and her husband goes to dinner," said First Assistant Mike Snipes with the Dallas District Attorney Office.
"That shows a level of depravity in this woman's heart in and of itself", Snipes said. Sherin was adopted by Wesley and Sini, a couple from Kerala, last year. As an infant she had been found abandoned in Gaya in Bihar and later put up for adoption.
Born Saraswathi, her tragic death is being mourned by thousands across the world.
"The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office is continuing to work on determining the cause of death. Those results will be made available when complete," Richardson Police said in a recent Facebook post.
On October 7, Wesley called police and reported Sherin missing. In a story he would later change, Wesley originally told police Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 am for not drinking her milk. When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.
Sherin's body was found by a cadaver dog after a massive search that lasted over two weeks.