Vegan mom gets life in prison for starvation death of son

Sheila O'Leary reacts during her trial, June 22, 2022, at the Lee County Clerk of Court in Fort...
Sheila O'Leary reacts during her trial, June 22, 2022, at the Lee County Clerk of Court in Fort Myers, Fla. O'Leary was convicted in June of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect in the death of Ezra O'Leary, her 18-month-old son.(Landon Bost/The News-Press via AP)
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 3:34 PM CDT
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FORT MYERS, Fla. (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. 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 had been returned to her biological father during an earlier malnutrition case in Virginia, court records show.