A physician said she notified Child Protective Services in March after she found several bone fractures on Sherin Mathews, a 3-year-old girl adopted from India who was found dead in suburban Dallas last month.
Dr. Suzanne Dakil testified on Wednesday in a custody hearing in which the girl’s adoptive parents, Wesley and Sini Mathews, were seeking to recover their biological child, 3, from state custody. Their daughter, originally placed in foster care, has been staying with relatives, Dallas News reported.
The testimony revealed that Sherin had a bone fracture in September 2016, after her family said the little girl was pushed off a couch by her sister, Dallas News reported. In January, a physician referred Mathews to Dakil because the toddler was underweight.
The little girl was hospitalized for a skin infection and possible joint and muscle infections.
Sini Mathews told the doctor that Sherin had fallen at the playground and that she grabbed her, but Dakil said the injuries were “not consistent with that explanation.”
Dakil said that after looking at X-rays, she determined that the girls’s legs were fractured. Sini told Dakil that Sherin had brittle bones as a result of the poor diet she had in India. However, the doctor determined that the injuries had occurred after she moved away from India.
“At that point, I had no explanation other than this child had been physically abused,” Dakil said.
The Mathewses, who face criminal charges arising from Sherin’s death, invoked their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions on Wednesday.
Sherin’s body was found in October in a culvert, more than two weeks after Wesley Mathews had reported her missing.
Sini Mathews turned herself in to the police on Nov. 16 and was charged with child abandonment after police alleged she left Sherin home alone. Police said the little girl was left home alone for one and a half hours on the night of Oct. 6 while her family went to dinner, and was still there when they returned. Police said they did not take the child after she had refused to drink milk.
Wesley Mathews was arrested and charged with injury to a child, one day after cadaver dogs led a search team to the child’s body. Initially, the father told police he had ordered the child to stand next to a tree behind the fence of their Dallas suburb home but that when he checked back 15 minutes later she was gone.
However, Mathews went to the police and gave a new account of what happened in the early hours of Oct. 7. The father told police he and the girl were in the home’s garage when she refused to drink her milk. The little girl allegedly would not listen at first but then began drinking and the father stepped in to “physically assist” her in consuming the liquid. Sherin began choking, coughing and breathing slowly at some point, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Mathews told the police he couldn’t feel Sherin’s pulse and believed she had died. He said he removed the toddler’s body from the house.
The family adopted Sherin in July 2016 from an orphanage in India.
Fox News’ Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.