A Florida mother will serve a life sentence in prison after her 18-month-old son died of severe malnutrition.
Sheila O’Leary was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect in the death of her son, Ezra O’Leary, on June 28, the Fort Meyers News-Press reported.
O’Leary received her life sentence for the murder on Monday in a Fort Myers court, according to the News-Press.
She’ll serve concurrent sentences on the other charges. Judge Bruce Kyle is ordering her to refrain from contacting her children.
O’Leary and her husband Ryan O’Leary placed their family on a strict vegan diet. The consequences of this decision proved grave for their child’s health.
Ezra was the size of a seven-month-old baby, a mere 17 pounds, when he died, according to police reports cited by The Washington Post.
The baby was fed only raw vegetables, fruit and breast milk.
Ezra struggled to breathe the night before he was found dead, and his mother didn’t call 911, choosing instead to go to sleep, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
A prosecutor accused O’Leary of starving her baby to death during closing arguments in her June trial.
“This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months,” said Francine Donnorummo, Special Victims Unit chief at the State Attorney’s Office, according to the News-Press.
“Her pride cost Ezra his life,” the prosecutor said of the child’s mother. “It is a reckless disregard for human life.”
There were three other children living in the home at the time that were under the age of 11, all of whom “also suffered from extreme neglect and child abuse,” the News-Press reported.
Ryan O’Leary is facing the same charges for his role in the child’s death — in addition to two sex crimes charges against minors, according to the News-Press.
His trial was delayed earlier this month.
Sheila O’Leary rejected a plea deal that would have put her behind bars for 30 years.
Defense attorney Lee Hollander described the life sentence as an expected development and pledged to appeal her conviction, according to the News-Press.
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