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Sentencing postponed again for vegan mom guilty of the malnutrition death of her toddler

Image Source: Lee County Sheriff's Office

In June, Sheila O'Leary was found guilty of neglect and the malnutrition death of her son, Ezra O'Leary. The vegan mother's sentencing was scheduled for Monday but has been delayed to August 15. This is the second time O'Leary's sentencing has been delayed.

The Florida woman was convicted on six charges related to her son's death, including first-degree murder, child abuse, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, and two counts of child neglect.

Her husband, Ryan Patrick O'Leary, was convicted of the same charges and will be sentenced this month. Ryan received additional charges last week, including lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim younger than 12.

The O'Leary family told investigators that they followed a strict vegan diet that included only raw fruits and vegetables. The couple reported that their young son was fed breast milk as well.

The 18-month-old child weighed 17 pounds when his parents discovered that he was not breathing, the police report stated. The average weight for a child that age is around 24 pounds. The toddler ultimately died from malnutrition complications.

Lee County state attorney's office Special Victims Unit chief Francine Donnorummo stated during the trial, "This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months."

In a 2019 briefing following the couple's conviction, State Attorney Amira D. Fox stated, "The evidence in this case is horrendous. With this indictment, the O'Learys are formally charged with the neglect, torture, and murder of an 18-month-old child due to starvation and extreme lack of care."

Authorities reported that the couple's two other children, ages 3 and 5, were also underweight and neglected.

A previous malnutrition case was brought against O'Leary in Virginia, court records show. In that case, O'Leary's fourth child was removed from her custody and returned to her biological father because of malnutrition.

O'Leary's lawyer, Lee Hollander, attempted to portray the mother as loving toward her children by showing family pictures during the trial. Hollander said, "Just because it happened doesn't mean she committed a crime."

Hollander insisted that "errors" led to the conviction of O'Leary, and he has requested a new trial. O'Leary stated that if a new trial is granted, she would like to be represented by a different attorney.

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