Two women who were impacted by the death of Richardson, Texas, girl Sherin Mathews have come together to create a proposed law that would harshly penalize parents who leave young children home alone without supervision. In fact, Sherin’s Law would make leaving a child under the age of 9 or 10 alone a felony.
Reena Bana and Shanna Poteet were outraged by Sherin’s death, saying what happened to the 3-year-old should spark a change in Texas law, according to WFAA 8 Dallas.
Currently, the state’s law does not specify an age at which parents can or cannot leave their children alone, reports WFAA 8 Dallas. Attorney Bilal Khaleeq told the local media outlet that Texas leaves the age at which children can be left unsupervised at home up to their “parent’s discretion.”
Sherin’s Law would also make it a felony to wait more than a few hours to report a missing child. Khaleeq told WFAA 8 Dallas the proposed law makes parents more responsible for their children. He is assisting Bana and Poteet to make changes in the law and hopes to aid in the reformation of Child Protective Services in Texas.
Weeks ago, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Sherin died of “homicidal violence,” according to NBC 5 Dallas.
— Richardson TX Times (@RichardsonTimes) January 18, 2018
The girl’s adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, was subsequently charged with capital murder in Sherin’s death after a grand jury found that during the commission of the killing, he “did use a deadly weapon, the exact nature and description of which is not known…,” reports India-West. The indictment further notes that Mathews “intentionally and knowingly” caused Sherin’s death.
Although the grand jury indictment does not implicate Sherin’s adoptive mother, Sini Mathews, in the child’s death, it did result in a charge of abandonment and endangering of a child against her, reports NBC 5 Dallas. Wesley also faces this charge.
The adoptive parents are accused of leaving Sherin home alone while they went out to dinner with their biological daughter. The outing reportedly took place on October 6, the night before Sherin was reported missing, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Sherin’s lifeless body was found by a cadaver dog on Sunday, October 22, in a culvert not far from her family’s home. Wesley was arrested the next day and charged with Injury to a Child.
Wesley told police on October 23 that Sherin was left at home because she wouldn’t drink her milk and he became “impatient” with her, reports the Dallas Morning News. He said Sini agreed to leave Sherin behind and was not “coerced” into doing so. He told police when the family returned home about an hour later, Sherin was still in the kitchen.
An arrest affidavit for Wesley states he told police that on October 7, he and Sherin were in the garage of the family home where he was trying to get her to drink milk, which she ultimately did. He said he then “physically assisted” her as she drank, subsequently observing that she was choking, coughing, and breathing slowly. Wesley stated that “eventually” he couldn’t feel a pulse on Sherin and believed the little girl was dead. He also admitted moving her body from the family home.
Sherin was adopted by the Mathewses in the summer of 2016 from India.