Jury Convicts Mother Of Starving Her Son To Death With Diet

A jury convicted a Florida mother Wednesday of six charges related to the 2019 murder of her 18-month-old son.

Sheila O’Leary was found guilty of first-degree murder; aggravated child abuse; aggravated manslaughter; child abuse; and two counts of child neglect after her infant son starved to death in September 2019, News-Press reported. Ezra O’Leary was 18 months old and weighed only 17 lbs when he died, the New York Post noted.

O’Leary and the child’s father, Ryan O’Leary, told police that Ezra followed a strict raw vegan diet and drank breast milk, but had stopped eating about a week before he died, the outlet continued. An autopsy revealed that he had died from complications related to malnutrition, the outlet noted.

Ryan O’Leary was also arrested and is currently awaiting trial on the same six charges, the outlet noted. (RELATED: REPORT: Coroner Says He Cried, Couldn’t Eat For A Week In Most Heinous Crime He’s Ever Seen)

“This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months,” Special Victims Unit chief Francine Donnorummo said, according to News-Press. Donnorummo cited evidence against O’Leary related to a parenting class she had to attend after a court order from Virginia Child Protective Services years prior, the outlet reported.

She also noted that O’Leary had used the Google search engine when Ezra’s health began to plummet after the family’s move to Florida, News-Press noted. O’Leary did not provide her son with food or health care despite his sickness, the outlet continued.

“This was a thought-out, planned course of action,” Donnorummo said, according to the outlet. “She knew what she needed to do. Ignorance is not a defense in this case. She made choices that killed her child.” Donnorummo argued that O’Leary’s “pride cost Ezra his life,” the report continued.

Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller argued that O’Leary, “chose to disregard Ezra’s suffering. She chose to disregard his cries. We’re here because their children were starving so much that the youngest starved to death,” News-Press continued. “She didn’t need a scale to see his bones. She didn’t need a scale to hear his cry,” Miller continued, the outlet noted.

O’Leary’s defense attorney Lee Hollander stated that there was no evidence of medical neglect and that the child’s death was an accident, citing autopsy reports, the outlet continued. Hollander went on to show the jury photographs of O’Leary with her children. “Does this look like a mom who wants to kill her kid? Just because it happened doesn’t mean she committed a crime,” he argued, according to the outlet.

The jury returned a guilty verdict after just five hours of deliberation, Wink News reported. O’Leary showed no emotion when she learned her fate, according to the outlet.

Kay Smythe