Sheila O’Leary Cape Coral vegan mom guilty of starving her toddler son to death after only feeding the boy raw fruits and vegetables and refusing to take him to doctor when he became ill.
A Florida vegan mother was found guilty of murdering her 18-month-old son after only feeding him raw fruits and vegetables.
Sheila O’Leary, 39, of Cape Coral now faces life in prison after a jury convicted her Wednesday of first degree murder along with a series of child abuse charges over the 2019 death of the toddler boy, Ezra O’Leary, the News Press reported.
The mother’s infant son weighed 17 pounds — seven pounds below average — when his parents noticed he had stopped breathing.
O’Leary and her husband, Ryan O’Leary, told police that Ezra followed a strict vegan diet — but that he was also breast fed.
They said the boy hadn’t eaten for about a week prior to his death and was having trouble sleeping. An autopsy found the little boy died of malnutrition complications.
After nearly four hours of jury deliberations, Sheila O’Leary is guilty on all six counts, including first degree murder of her 18 month old son Ezra.
— Zach Oliveri (@Zach_Oliveri) June 29, 2022
Mother also neglected her 3 other children
Prosecutors accused the mother of failing to seek proper medical care for her son when she realized he was ill.
‘She chose to disregard his cries,’ Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller said during closing arguments.
‘She didn’t need a scale to see his bones. She didn’t need a scale to hear his cry.’
During police questioning at her initial arrest, Sheila said that the boy was delivered at home and had never seen a doctor, according to the probable cause affidavit. It remained unclear why the mother elected to not take her son to a doctor when it became apparent he was having issues.
Prosecutors stated that the couple had also been neglecting their three other children — all under age 11 — when Ezra died.
‘We’re here because their children were starving so much that the youngest starved to death,’ Miller said.
Prosecutors said the parents put their children on a strict eating regiment – best availed for adults, let alone children- without at the very least seeking the guidance of a doctor. How or why the parents came to put the children on a strict eating regiment also remained unclear.
O’Leary who now faces life in prison had previously rejected the state’s plea deal offer of 30 years jail if she pled guilty to her son’s starving death.
O’Leary’s husband is scheduled to face trial on the same charges.