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    Florida mother who claims to be vegan found guilty of starving her son to death

    Couple told police they only eat raw fruits, vegetables

    Sheila and Ryan O’Leary. (Lee County Sheriff's Office)

    LEE COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida mother has been found guilty of first-degree murder after her child died from starvation.

    Sheila O’Leary, 39, of Lee County, and her husband were indicted in December 2019 for abusing and neglecting their four children.

    Their 18-month-old son, Ezra, died of malnutrition and dehydration that same year. He weighed just 17 pounds – seven pounds below average – when he died in his sleep.

    Their three other children were also found to be malnourished and underweight.

    The couple reportedly told police they are vegans and only eat raw fruits and vegetables, and also gave their son breast milk, however prosecutor Francine Donnorummo told the jury that Ezra’s condition was chronic, and that “ignorance is not a defense in this case.”

    Detectives also said that O’Leary told them her son hadn’t eaten for a week before he died.

    O’Leary was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect.

    The mother is facing up to a life sentence with no chance of getting out of prison. The father, Ryan O’Leary, 33, meanwhile, is expected to go to trial later this year.


    About the Author:

    Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.