TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida mother who starved her child to death has been found guilty of first-degree murder, WBBH reports.
Authorities said the child, Ezra O’Leary, was only 18 months old when he died in his sleep in Cape Coral in Sept. 2019.
The toddler weighed only 17 pounds at the time of his death, which is seven pounds below the average weight for a child his age. Evidence showed he died of malnutrition and dehydration, the report said.
Authorities noted three other children at the home, ages 3, 5 and 11, were also suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration.
The boy’s parents, Sheila O’Leary and Ryan Patrick O’Leary, were arrested.
According to WPLG, the couple told police their family followed a strict vegan diet consisting of only raw fruits and vegetables. They also fed their son breast milk, but he didn’t eat at all in the week leading up to his death, Sheila O’Leary said, according to the report.
Sheila O’Leary was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 25, and she faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ryan O’Leary is expected to go on trial later this year.