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Vegan mom gets life for murdering 18-month-old son who weighed 17 pounds when he died of a strict diet
A vegan woman convicted of murdering her young son’s death from malnutrition was sentenced Monday to life in prison.
Sheila O’Leary, 39, whose family followed a strict vegan diet, was convicted in June of six charges – first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child assault and two counts of child neglect – for the death of Ezra O’Leary.
Her sentencing in Lee County, Florida, had previously been postponed four times. She showed no emotion as the verdict was read and told the judge she did not want to make a statement.
Her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, remains in prison pending trial on the same charges.
Sheila O’Leary to appear in court Monday for her conviction in Fort Myers, Florida
Mother-of-four Sheila Leary is shown above. Her 18-month-old son Ezra died in September 2019 from complications caused by malnutrition
Investigators said the couple, who lived in Cape Coral, told them the family ate only raw fruits and vegetables, although the toddler was also fed breast milk.
The 18-month-old boy weighed 17 pounds and was the size of a seven-month-old baby when he died in September 2019, according to a police report.
The couple had two other children, ages 3 and 5, who were also malnourished, researchers said.
Amira Fox, the prosecutor, said the two endured “extreme neglect.”
A fourth child had been returned to her biological father in a previous malnutrition case in Virginia, court records show.
Doctors discovered that Ezra had not been fed for a week when he died.
Sheila and Ryan, who has also been charged with murder and awaiting trial, called 911 after Ezra stopped breathing.
Sheila O’Leary, 39, was convicted in June by a jury in Cape Coral, Florida, after a week-long trial.
Sheila and her 30-year-old husband Ryan were both charged with murder after the 18-year-old’s death. They admitted to police that they should have called 911 when Ezra started breathing in 2019, but went to sleep instead
Ambulance staff declared the toddler dead at the scene. They also examined the couple’s three older children.
The couple were charged in December 2019 after Ezra’s cause of death was revealed.
No photos have ever been released showing the condition of the child when he died.
But prosecutors at Sheila’s trial described an emaciated child who cried constantly.
“She chose to ignore his crying. She didn’t need scales to see his bones.
“She didn’t need a scale to hear his cries,” said Sara Miller, assistant district attorney.
The family home in Cape Coral, Florida, where the three children lived with their parents. The other children were placed under guardianship by the youth care system
The court heard how Sheila mainly fed the children mangoes, bananas and avocados. Ezra also got breast milk. She will be arraigned on December 23, 2019
The couple also had a three-year-old and a five-year-old who were severely malnourished.
Their skin was yellow and one had such poor oral hygiene that their teeth were black.
Sheila also has an 11-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, and her health was significantly better than the other children’s, as she spent time with her father in Virginia and followed a good diet.
The three children were given a diet by their mother that mainly consisted of mangoes, bananas, avocados and rambutans.
It is unclear if they have ever seen a doctor.
Ezra was born at home and had never been to a doctor.
Police say the toddler had been breastfeeding on the day he died when he started breathing.
Instead of calling for help, his parents say they have gone to sleep.
By the time they woke up, he had completely stopped breathing.