Vegan mom gets life in prison following death of son from malnutrition

Sheila O'Leary reacts during trial, June 22, 2022, at the Lee County Clerk of Court in Fort Myers, Fla. The mother who followed a strict vegan diet faces sentencing for the malnutrition death of her 18-month-old son. O’Leary was convicted in June of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect in the death of Ezra O’Leary. She learns her fate from a judge Monday, Aug. 8, 2022 afternoon in Lee County, Florida. AP

A vegan woman from Florida was sentenced to life in prison on Monday following the death of her 18-month-old son from malnutrition.

Sheila O’Leary, 38, was convicted of six charges in June: first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect.

Sheila O’Leary has been sentenced to life in prison in relation to the malnourishment death of her 18-month-old son. Cape Coral Police Department
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O’Leary and her husband, both of whom are strict vegans, fed their 18-month-old child Ezra only raw fruits and vegetables and breast milk, The Associated Press reported.

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The husband, Ryan O’Leary, is currently in jail awaiting trial for the same six charges.

Ryan O’Leary is still awaiting trial. Cape Coral Police Department

The couple have two other children ages three and five, the Cape Coral Police Department reported. Police were alerted to the situation when they received a 911 call in September 2019, claiming Ezra had stopped breathing.

He was pronounced dead when medical personnel arrived at the home. He weighed only 17 pounds, making him about the size of a seven-month-old baby.

The Cape Coral Police Department claimed all three children were found “extremely malnourished.”

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The two siblings were removed immediately from the home by the Department of Children and Families. A fourth child had been returned to her biological father during an earlier malnutrition case in Virginia, court records show.

In November 2019, the medical examiner determined the cause of the boy’s death was “complications of malnourishment,” including dehydration, microsteatosis of the liver and swelling of the hands, feet and lower legs, Fort Myers News-Press reported.

Following the autopsy, the O’Leary parents turned themselves in to police and were arrested.

Lawyers for both parents have not commented publicly on O’Leary’s life sentence.

— With files from The Associated Press 


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