A vegan mother convicted in Lee County, Florida, of murdering her toddler son was sentenced to life in prison for the “starvation” death of 18-month-old Ezra O’Leary.
Sheila O’Leary, a 39-year-old woman from Florida, was sentenced to life in prison on August 29, 2022, after she was found guilty of killing her son, Ezra. The 18-month-old died of severe malnutrition in September 2019. O’Leary, a vegan, was convicted on six charges – first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect.
When Ezra died in September 2019, doctors found that he had not been adequately fed for an entire week prior to his death. Sheila, along with her husband, called 911 when their son stopped breathing. The husband has also been charged with the boy’s death and is awaiting trial just like the mother.
The cause of death for the boy was not known until December 2019. At that time, three months after the boy’s death, his parents were charged with his murder because the child died from malnutrition.
A press release from the Office of the State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida said:
“This afternoon, Sheila O’Leary was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to life in prison for First Degree Murder. She was also sentenced to 30 years in prison for Aggravated Child Abuse and 30 years in prison for Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. She was sentenced to 5 years in prison on two counts of Child Neglect and one count of Child Abuse.”
The prosecution also noted that O’Leary has been ordered not to contact her kids and that her sentences will run concurrently.
O’Leary and her 33-year-old husband, co-defendant Ryan Patrick O’Leary, were indicted by a Lee County Grand Jury, convened by State Attorney Amira Fox, on Dec. 18, 2019.
The state attorney’s office said she was also ordered to have no contact with her kids.
She and her husband, Ryan Patrick, followed a strict vegan diet. They both told investigators they only ate raw fruits and vegetables but did breastfeed the toddler.
Ryan Patrick is awaiting trial on the same charges as his wife and is in jail.
Investigators said the couple also had a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old who were malnourished. Another child had already been returned to their biological father as part of a separate malnourishment case.
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