A vegan mother in Florida was sentenced to life in prison following a first-degree murder conviction for the death of her 18-month-old son.
Sheila O’Leary, 38, was convicted in June after her son Ezra died from what prosecutors said were “complications from severe malnutrition and dehydration.”
“This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months,” Francine Donnorummo, the special victims unit chief at the Lee County State Attorney’s Office, said at the trial.
The child died on Sept. 27, 2019. At the time, police said, he weighed just 17 pounds. In addition to the murder charge, O’Leary was convicted of aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect.
Her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, awaits trial on the same charges. Sheila and Ryan were both indicted by a grand jury in Lee County, Florida, on Dec. 18. 2019.
Sheila O’Leary said her family adheres to a strict diet of raw fruits and vegetables, although she and her husband told investigators that Ezra also received breast milk.
Sheila O’Leary has three other children, ages 11, 5, and 3. State Attorney Amira Fox’s office noted that they “also suffered from extreme neglect and child abuse,” and that Sheila O’Leary has been ordered not to have any contact with them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.