A vegan mother has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murder in the malnutrition death of 18-month-old son, Ezra O’Leary.
39-year-old Sheila O’Leary, who followed a strict vegan diet, was convicted on six charges in June:
- First-degree murder
- Aggravated child abuse
- Aggravated manslaughter
- Child abuse and two counts of child neglect
Her sentencing had previously been postponed four times.
O’Leary showed no emotion as the sentence was read out, telling the judge she did not wish to make a statement. Meanwhile, her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, remains in jail while awaiting trial on the same charges.
According to investigators, the couple told them the family ate only raw fruits and vegetables, although their child was fed breast milk.
The couple’s two other children were also malnourished.
State attorney, Amira Fox, said the two endured “extreme neglect.”
Doctors said Ezra had not been fed for a week by the time he died.
Sheila and Ryan called 911 after Ezra stopped breathing, but paramedics pronounced the toddler dead at the scene. The pair were charged in December 2019 after Ezra’s cause of death was revealed.
Prosecutors at the trial of the vegan mother described an emaciated child who constantly cried.
“She chose to disregard his cries. She didn’t need a scale to see his bones,” they said.
“She didn’t need a scale to hear his cry,” said Sara Miller, Assistant State Attorney.
Ezra was also born at home and had never been to a physician.
According to police, the toddler had been nursing when he struggled to breathe.
His parents say they went to sleep instead of calling 911.