His wife, Sini Mathews, quickly left the courthouse without commenting on the sentence. Originally charged with child abandonment, the registered nurse had her case dismissed earlier this year by prosecutors who said they couldn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Before his capital murder trial was to begin Monday, Mathews pleaded guilty to a lesser charge: injury to a child by omission. On Wednesday, he said he accepted whatever decision the jury came to for his punishment, even if it were a life sentence.
“I’m more than happy to take it,” he said Wednesday morning.
Life is precisely what prosecutors advocated for in closing arguments. They argued that Mathews built a public persona of a good father, but ultimately failed to protect Sherin.
Fine accused Mathews of killing the girl and said the father acted out of anger because she wouldn’t finish the milk a doctor had prescribed for her nutrition. The father wanted to exert power over the girl, Fine said.
“He is a liar,” Fine said. “He had to be in control.”
Rafael De La Garza, Mathews’ attorney, defended his client against the murder accusation. He argued prosecutors couldn’t prove Mathews committed murder, otherwise he would have stood trial on that charge.
De La Garza contends that, by pleading guilty, Mathews was accepting responsibility for Sherin’s death, the result of his inaction when the child began to choke. The attorney fought against the perception that Mathews didn’t care about Sherin, and said his client will live with the consequences of her death for the rest of his life.
“You can see from the videos, you can see from the photos that they loved and adored Sherin,” De La Garza told the jury.
Photos and home videos played for the jury during the trial weren’t enough for Fine, however. He argued that Mathews showed his true colors with his behavior after Sherin’s death.
“Great guys and great dads, they don’t stick their daughters in trash bags and dump them in sewage drains,” Fine said.
A day before prosecutors and the defense rested their case Wednesday, Mathews took the witness stand Tuesday to describe the night the toddler died.
He told jurors that Sherin choked while drinking milk in the family’s garage but he didn’t call for emergency help or alert his wife — a registered nurse — because he was scared Child Protective Services would get involved.
Crippled by fear, Mathews testified, he put the girl’s body in a culvert, where it was found about two weeks later.
“I could not absorb what had happened. I could not believe that in a very quick time my child had gone from me,” Mathews said Tuesday. “I was really, really paralyzed.”
Mathews took the witness stand again Wednesday morning, when Fine grilled him on multiple inconsistencies between the account he told police and his testimony Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Mathews told the jury he brought the girl into the garage to see a new lawnmower to calm her down so she could drink her milk, and that he had played piano to pass the time — two things Fine said he never told police. Mathews also testified that he gave Sherin CPR, which Fine said also deviated from what he told police.
Son of woman charged in Wake Forest
Child Abuse case: ‘We never had a
WAKE FOREST, NC – Two Wake Forest parents were charged with child abuse causing serious physical injury, arrest records show.
Records state Michael Daniel Bell and Rebecca Ann Bell, of Washhouse Lane in Wake Forest, failed to enroll at least one child in school, abused at least one child and exposed a child to domestic violence and let at least one child live in a condemned home for a week.
The home that was condemned had no electricity and no running water and had holes in the ceilings, exposed nails in the floor and mold and raw meat throughout the house, according to warrants.
According to the couple’s Facebook page, they have nine children.
Rebecca Bell’s oldest son, 21-year-old Matthew Shirely, lives in Nevada and said that Michael Bell abused him and his siblings for years.
“You know, just getting like smacked around to like actual fistfights between me and my stepdad,” he said.
Shirely said his family lived in Nevada prior to living in North Carolina, where Rebecca Bell moved to get back together with Michael.
“Growing up, none of my siblings, me included, we never had a stable home. We bounced around. Off the top of my head, I could probably give you around anywhere from 16 to 20 addresses we’ve lived at,” Shirely said.
Shirely said he feels helpless being across the country while 10 of his siblings are split up in foster care.
“You know, they’ve gone through it in the past. They went through it when I was there. I went through it when I was with them, and it hurts knowing my siblings, like I’m not there to do anything about it,” he said.
A father himself, Shirely said he doesn’t understand how his mother could watch her children suffer.
“She’s seen the fights, she’s seen abuse, she’s seen the way Mike treats the kids, and it just amazes me someone could watch their kids go through that and not want something better,” he said.
This is for all those that answered the Call of Duty for Our Great Country, America the Beautiful, the Home of the Brave and the Free, who gave all and didn’t get the chance to bring up their children, or grow old with their spouses, or have careers.
The flag shouldn’t stay at half-staff all day
Federal guidelines say the flag should be displayed at half-staff only until noon, then go up to full-staff until sundown.
Baby dies after being left in day care van
JACKSONVILLE, FL – After a 4-month-old baby found unconscious Wednesday afternoon in a van at a Westside day care died, the co-owner of the center was arrested, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
Darryl Ewing, 56, was booked into the Duval County jail at 8:18 p.m. on a charge of child neglect, according to online jail records.
Police said the infant girl was found still in a child safety seat inside the van at Ewing’s Love and Hope Preschool on Lenox Avenue about 1 p.m, nearly five hours after the vehicle used to pick up children was parked out front.
Jacksonville firefighters tried to revive the baby and took her to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, but the child could not be saved.
“Tragically, today a family has just been notified of the gut-wrenching loss of their precious baby girl,” Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell said. “DCF immediately opened a joint child death and child care licensing investigation in coordination with law enforcement. We will continue to support this family as they mourn the loss of their baby girl.”
Police said the center cares for about 14 children and no other children were injured.
Investigators said they learned Darryl Ewing was the driver of the day care van that picked up the infant and other children earlier Wednesday morning and no other employees were on the van. According to detectives, the van arrived at the day care about 8:25 a.m., and children were off-loaded and taken into the center.
Investigators said Darryl Ewing then parked the van in front of the day care and left the vehicle unattended with the 4-month-old still strapped in her car seat in the third row of the van.
At 1:03 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office, the infant’s mother called to make after-school arrangements for all of her children and it was discovered the baby had never been checked into the day care. Police said day care employees went to the van and discovered the infant still strapped in her child seat, unresponsive, and called emergency services.
Throughout the afternoon, the building was surrounded by police tape, officers, evidence technicians and homicide detectives, including the JSO chief of investigations.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, further investigation revealed that Darryl Ewing was responsible for maintaining a separate driver’s log documenting all children that are placed onto the van, which was separate from the parental log signed by parents. Detectives viewed the driver’s log, which they said showed Darryl Ewing had logged in two of the infant’s siblings, but not the infant.
Police said they learned, based on interviews with other day care center employees, that it is the van driver’s responsibility to check and make sure children are offloaded from the van at the day care center.
“It was determined the suspect’s actions (and lack thereof) failed to provide the victim with the necessary supervision and provide services to protect the victim’s physical health, all which was essential to the victim’s well-being and contributed to the death of the victim,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Ewing refused to talk with detectives when he was taken to the police station to be interviewed and that’s when he was arrested. Police identified him as the co-owner of the day care center, though the day care’s website lists Darryl Ewing as the director.
Duval County jail records show he has been arrested at least four previous times.
The state said will be immediately suspending the day care center’s license because it wasn’t aware children were being transported.
While the center has a valid license with DCF since 2016 and inspectors have not found any Class I violations in its quarterly inspections, the agency said it didn’t know the day care center was transporting children, so it never monitored transportation standards.
The state said parents have already been contacted to let them know the center’s license is being pulled.
The other owner of the business, Gloryian Ewing was arrested 18 months ago on two counts of child abuse. While those charges involved her own teenage children — police said they were beaten with an extension cord — she was arrested at the day care center in December 2017.
After Gloryian Ewing, 51, completed a pretrial intervention, the charges were dropped.
DCF records show the center’s license was not affected by the owner’s legal troubles. The center had no violations in its last three quarterly inspections by the DCF — most recently on April 15.
The last time inspectors found any issues at the facility was last July when the report noted a lack of documentation of worker training and outdoor equipment, and field trip forms were not available for review. Since the center has been open, the facility has received two Class II and 13 Class II violations.
News4Jax meteorologists estimated that the temperature inside an enclosed vehicle parked in the sun at midday Wednesday could have reached 123 degrees.
A woman who lives in the neighborhood didn’t want to give her name but said her children used to attend this day care center and her heart breaks for the baby’s family.
“Luckily they were grade-school age, but they were left on that same day care van,” the woman told News4Jax. “It’s sad. I just wish that day care was shut down. It really, it’s not the best day care.”
Another woman who works at a different child care center calls it a tragedy.
“It’s just heartbreaking right now to know that a child has lost its life,” Lisa Brown said. “Just coming to day care and being taken care of and not returning home. I think about my own grandkids.”
The Sheriff’s Office and DCF continue to investigate the infant’s death.