People often accuse vegans of being crazy, but this particular one was sadly worse than anyone could have imagined.
A vegan woman in Florida has been sentenced to life in prison after the malnutrition death of her young son.
Sheila O’Leary, 38, was convicted of six charges last June: first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect. Authorities have said that O’Leary was responsible for the death of her son, Ezra.
A strict vegan, O’Leary and her husband, Ryan, fed Ezra only raw fruits and vegetables, as well as breast milk. According to a police report obtained by NBC-15, Ezra was 18 months old when he died in September 2019. He only weighed 17 pounds — the size of a 7-month-old baby.
When paramedics answered Sheila O’Leary’s 911 call on Sept. 27, 2019, they said that they found Ezra not breathing and his two siblings, ages 3 and 5, showing the effects of “extreme malnourishment,” said Cape Coral police.
The O’Learys told officers their diet was comprised of only raw fruits and vegetables. The medical medical examiner ruled the boy’s cause of death to be complications of malnutrition, including dehydration, affecting the liver and swelling of the child’s hands, feet and lower legs, according to a probable cause statement obtained by the Fort Myers News-Press.
But attorneys for the O’Learys maintained that they were caring parents who didn’t mean to kill their son.
“The child’s death, while tragic, was neither purposeful nor neglectful, but accidental, and is listed on the death certificate as such,” attorney John Musca, who represented Sheila O’Leary, said in a statement to local TV station WFTX.
But Sheila was convicted last month, and a judge ordered that she will spend the rest of her life in prison. Her attorney did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment.
Ryan O’Leary is awaiting trial on the same charges. He has not yet entered a plea and is jailed without bond.
Attorneys for the couple did not immediately return calls for comment.