Vegan Mother Gets Life in Prison for Starvation Death of Son

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
August 29, 2022US News
Vegan Mother Gets Life in Prison for Starvation Death of Son
Sheila O'Leary stands and listens during her trial in Fort Myers, Fla., on June 28, 2022. (Andrea Melendez/The News-Press via AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla.—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. Her sentencing in Lee County, Florida, had previously been postponed four times.

Vegan-Starved Baby
Sheila O’Leary reacts during trial at the Lee County Clerk of Court in Fort Myers, Fla., on June 22, 2022. (Landon Bost/The News-Press via AP)

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 (8 kilograms) 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 had been returned to her biological father during an earlier malnutrition case in Virginia, court records show.

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