A Florida woman who had her family comply with a strict vegan diet was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for starving her 18-month-old baby to death.
The woman was identified as 38-year-old Sheila O’ Leary. She testified that her family follows this strict vegan diet consisting of only fruits and vegetables. Her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, added that the baby was the only exemption from this strict diet as he sometimes took breast milk.
The 18-month-old child, Ezra O’Leary, died on the 27th of September, 2019. At the time of his death, the infant weighed only 17 pounds and was the size of a seven-month-old baby, according to police reports. O’Leary told detectives the child did not eat for a week before his death and had trouble falling asleep for a while.
The police reports noted that the baby died due to extreme dehydration and malnutrition complications. The autopsy also revealed that Ezra suffered from micro steatosis of the liver and slight edema of the hands, feet, and lower legs.
Sheila O’Leary, 38, whose family followed a strict vegan diet, was convicted in June on six charges — first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect — in the death of Ezra O’Leary. | via @AP pic.twitter.com/94tYWQ3Qir
— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) September 1, 2022
Special victims unit chief at the Lee County State Attorney’s Office, Francine Donnorummo, said, “This child did not eat. He was starved to death for over 18 months.”
The vegan Florida mother convicted of murder in the starvation death of her 18-month-old son after feeding him only raw fruits and vegetables has been sentenced to life in prison.
Recall 8 weeks ago HallesBlog shared the news of Sheila O’Leary conviction and awaiting sentencing. pic.twitter.com/N7JNQGS4My
— (IG) Hallesblogafrica (@hallesblog) August 31, 2022
Reports found that the entire family was malnourished. The couple also shares two other children, one aged three and the other five. These two children were also reportedly malnourished and underweight for their ages.
Say what you will about the “evils” of meat eating but you do not find stories of folks starving their kids to death. You do find this in Vegan Land.
Vegan mom Sheila O'Leary gets life in prison for son Ezra's starvation https://t.co/2TD1H5KB4R
— Robb Wolf (@robbwolf) August 31, 2022
Sheila and her husband were indicted by a grand jury in Lee County, Florida, on the 18th of December 2019.
Sheila was convicted on six different charges in June. Her charges were first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect. She has been sentenced to serve two 30- year jail sentences concurrently for the charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child.
In addition, she is also slated to concurrently serve an additional five-year prison sentence for charges of child abuse and child neglect.
According to Amila Foxx, the State Attorney, both toddlers “also suffered from extreme neglect and child abuse.”
Court records also show that O’Leary has another child who has been returned to her biological father during an earlier malnutrition case in Virginia. The judge also ordered that the couple were not allowed to have contact with the surviving children.
Sheila’s attorney, Lee Hollandey, said the court’s verdict was precisely what they had expected. Hollander said, “It was what we were expecting.”
Hollander added that they intend to appeal the verdict in a new trial soon.
Judge Bruce Kyle delivered the sentence on Monday as Sheila’s sentencing had previously been postponed on four occasions. More so, her husband, Ryan O’Leary, had been booked to jail and awaits trial on the exact charges as his wife and two separate molestation charges.