Sheila O’Leary, 39, of Cape Coral, faces life in prison after a jury convicted her of murder and child abuse charges in the death of little Ezra O’Leary in 2019. The boy weighed just 17 pounds when he died, and had only been fed his parents’ strict vegan diet. The boy’s family claimed that he was given breast milk as well. Prosecutors said the boy suffered horribly in his dying days.
“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.”
O’Leary and her husband, Ryan O’Leary, told police that Ezra followed a strict vegan diet. They said the boy was having trouble sleeping and had not eaten a bite for a week prior to his death. His cause of death was determined to be complications from malnutrition.
Ryan O’Leary is slated to stand trial later this year on the same charges.
During her trial, prosecutors said O’Leary failed to seek proper medical care for the ailing boy. The couple had also allegedly neglected their three other children when Ezra died. Two, who were the couple’s other biological children, were placed in the custody of Child Services after their brother’s death, while their 11-year-old half-sister now lives with her father, Khang Chen, in Virginia.
Chen testified at trial that he, O’Leary and their daughter had lived together at his mother’s home in Virginia before the O’Learys moved to Florida. He said they had taken parenting classes following a court order from Virginia’s Child Protective Services.
“It was a class to educate new parents … or parents in general,” Chen told jurors. “How to raise a healthy child.”
O’Leary was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect. She will be sentenced July 25.
“This is by no means unique to the vegan community, but this is certainly an exacerbating fact when we see people who are poor parents and vegan [their children see] much more likelihood of worse outcomes because of the inherent deficiencies in the diet,” Baker said.
Original Article: Florida Vegan Mom Guilty Of Toddler’s Starvation Murder | The Daily Wire