Vegan Mother Sentenced to Life Over Toddler's Death

Sheila O'Leary was convicted on charges including first-degree murder
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 29, 2022 4:56 PM CDT
Vegan Mom Gets Life Sentence for Son's Starvation Death
Sheila O'Leary is seen during trial, June 22, 2022, at the Lee County Clerk of Court in Fort Myers, Fla.   (Landon Bost/The News-Press via AP)

A vegan woman convicted of murder in the malnutrition death of her young son was sentenced Monday to life in prison. 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, the AP reports. Her sentencing in Lee County, Florida, had previously been postponed four times. Her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, remains in jail while awaiting trial on the same charges.

Investigators said the couple told them the family ate only raw fruits and vegetables, although the toddler also was fed breast milk. The 18-month-old boy weighed 17 pounds and was the size of a 7-month-old baby when he died in September 2019, a police report said. The Cape Coral couple had two other children, ages 3 and 5, who also were malnourished, investigators said. A fourth child was returned to her biological father during an earlier malnutrition case in Virginia, court records show. O'Leary, who earlier rejected a 30-year plea deal offered by the state, was ordered to have no contact with the children, WINK reports.

(More Florida stories.)

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