Houston: Wesley Mathews, the Indian-American foster father, sentenced to life after his 3-year-old daughter Sherin Mathews was found dead in a culvert in 2017, has filed a motion for a new trial, US media reported, less than a month after he said he would accept any punishment jurors chose.
In a case that attracted much international attention, Mathews, 39, who hails from Kochi in Kerala, pleaded guilty on June 24 to a lesser charge of injury to a child in Sherin's death.
He was originally charged with capital murder by authorities in the US state of Texas after they discovered Sherin's highly decomposed body after a massive search that lasted 15 days.
Mathews, sentenced to life in prison on June 26 in the death of Sherin, has appealed the sentence and his attorney also filed a motion for a new trial, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Mathews and his wife Sini Mathews, both hailing from Kerala, adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar's Nalanda district in 2016.
In a motion for a new trial, Wesley's appeal attorney, Brook Busbee, states that Mathews should be granted a new trial because the "photographs of the remains of the decedent, both where her body was discovered and in the autopsy suite" were so prejudicial as to deny Mathews a fair trial.
At least two jurors were visibly affected when shown the graphic images, NBC News reported.
The images were not shown to the audience in the courtroom.
Busbee also stated that jurors were shown evidence that Sherin suffered "fractures from before she died. There was no evidence" that linked Mathews to the injuries and "introduction of that evidence unfairly prejudiced the jury."
Mathews' legal team will not go into details at this time as to what reason or evidence they have to petition a new trial, simply that they are "looking at all options," the NBC report said.
Mathews has also been appointed a new attorney in his appeal process. Attorney Michael Casillas has requested all records pertaining to the case and trial, it said.
After telling the 12-member jury how much he regretted dumping Sherin's body in a culvert near their home in Richardson city, Mathews testified that he would accept life in prison.
"I'm more than happy to take it," Mathews had said.
He initially told police that Sherin went missing on October 7, 2017, after he put her outside their home at 3 am because she would not drink her milk. When he checked in on her 15 minutes later, Mathews said Sherin was missing.
He later admitted she died when he "physically assisted" her in drinking the milk and got chocked.
He said fear prevented him from waking his wife, Sini, a registered nurse, or calling 911 for help. Instead, he drove Sherin's body to the culvert and dumped it there. Her body was found by a cadaver dog two weeks later, severely decomposed.
Police charged Sherin's foster mother Sini with child abandonment in November 2017, after Mathews told officials that the couple left the toddler alone the night of her death while they went to dinner with their biological daughter.
Sini's case was dismissed in March this year after prosecutors said they could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
(With inputs from PTI)