A vegan woman from Florida was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for the starvation death of her 18-month-old son.
Sheila O’Leary, 38, had her family follow a strict vegan diet, according to NBC News. O’Leary said that her family adheres to a strict diet of raw fruits and vegetables. Her husband – Ryan Patrick O’Leary – told investigators that his infant son also received breast milk.
Ezra O’Leary – the Cape Coral couple’s 18-month-old son – died on Sept. 27, 2019. Police said the baby weighed just 17 pounds at the time of death. Authorities estimate that baby Ezra was the size of a 7-month-old infant when he died.
Prosecutors said baby Ezra died from “complications from severe malnutrition and dehydration.”
“This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months,” Francine Donnorummo – the special victims unit chief at the Lee County State Attorney’s Office – said at the trial.
The vegan mom and her husband, Ryan O’Leary, have two other children – ages 3 and 5 – who were also malnourished, according to authorities. The office of State Attorney Amira Fox said the two children “also suffered from extreme neglect and child abuse.” O’Leary has been ordered not to have any contact with them.
O’Leary has a fourth child – who had been ordered to return to the biological father because of malnutrition issues, according to court records in Virginia.
On Dec. 18. 2019, Sheila and Ryan were both indicted by a grand jury in Lee County, Florida.
Sheila O’Leary was convicted in June on six charges: first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect. O’Leary was hit with two 30-year sentences for aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child, and an additional five-year prison sentence for child abuse and child neglect, to be served concurrently, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
The Florida woman’s attorney Lee Hollander said of the punishment, “It was what we were expecting.”
Hollander stated that he intends to appeal the sentence and seek a new trial.
Ryan O’Leary, 33, remains in jail and awaits trial on the same charges as his wife.
Vegan Florida Mom Sentenced To Life In Baby’s Starvation Death