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When Her Toddler Died, She Said They Followed A Strict Vegan Diet. Police Said The Child Was Starved To Death.

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Source: MEGA; Lee County Sheriff's Office

Sep. 15 2022, Published 8:56 a.m. ET

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A woman told police the family followed a strict vegan diet when her 18-month-old child. But investigators said he was starved to death.

Now, she will never hurt another child.

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Recently, a judge in Florida sentenced Sheila O’Leary, 38, to life in prison for the killing of Ezra O’Leary, according to the Associated Press. She was convicted of murder and other charges for the toddler’s death.

Her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, remains in jail and awaits trial, according to the AP.

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The couple had two other children who were also found malnourished, according to the AP. A fourth child was turned her biological father during an earlier malnutrition case.

On Sept. 17, 2019, Ezra was found dead. The O’Learys told police that the family followed a strict vegan diet, eating only raw fruits and vegetables, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. Though, they said the toddler was also breast fed milk.

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The couple said that Ezra hadn’t eaten in the week before his death and had trouble sleeping, according to the News-Press.

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However, investigators determined the 18-month-old weighed only 17 pounds when he died and was the size of a 7-month-old baby.

Prosecutors depicted a case of long-standing neglect that the child faced.

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“This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months," Francine Donnorummo, Special Victims Unit chief at the State Attorney's Office, said during closing arguments in June, according to the News-Press.

Prosecutors also said that Sheila O’Leary did a series of google searches as the baby’s health declined. They said the mom failed to provide the child with health care and food.

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"This was a thought-out, planned course of action,” Donnorummo said, the News-Press reported.

However, defense attorney Lee Hollander said they plan to appeal the conviction and sentence, according to the News-Press. He said the eldest child testified remotely in violation of Sheila O’Leary’s right to confront her accuser.

He added they were not surprised by the sentence.

“It was what we were expecting,” Hollander said, according to the News-Press.


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