The sentencing of a vegan Florida mother who starved her 18-month-old son was postponed a second time Monday.
Sheila O’Leary, 38, was due to know her fate Monday after an earlier delay, but her sentencing was again postponed to August 15 in Lee County. She faces life imprisonment.
On June 28, O’Leary, whose family was strictly vegan, was found guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child molestation and two counts of child neglect in the 2019 death of Ezra O’Leary .
The toddler weighed just 17 pounds – seven pounds below the average for a child his age – when his parents noticed he had stopped breathing in September 2019.
An autopsy revealed that little Ezra died of malnutrition complications.
Ezra’s father, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, 33, will face trial later this month on some of the same charges as his wife.
Additional charges were filed last week for sexually assaulting a victim under the age of 12 and lewd and lascivious behavior in a victim under the age of 12 against the father.
Sheila O’Leary was originally scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, but that hearing was postponed pending a prejudice report from the State Department of Corrections and a request for a new trial.
Lee Hollander, O’Leary’s defense attorney, told The News-Press on Monday he didn’t know why the sentencing had been postponed again, but said he believed the report was ongoing before the sentencing.
Investigators said the couple told them the family only ate raw fruits and vegetables, even though the toddler was also breast-fed, a police report said.
“This child has not eaten. He was starved to death for over 18 months,” said Francine Donnorummo, the chief of the Lee County Attorney’s Office of Victims’ Task Force, during the trial.
Prosecutors accused the mother of failing to provide her son with adequate medical care when she discovered he was ill.
“She chose to ignore his screams,” Assistant District Attorney Sara Miller said during closing arguments. “She didn’t need a scale to see his bones. She didn’t need a scale to hear his scream.”
The O’Leary couple had two other children, ages 3 and 5, who were also malnourished, investigators said. A fourth child had been returned to her birth father during a previous malnutrition case in Virginia, court records show.
Sheila’s attorney showed pictures of the mother with one of her children during the trial to show that she never intended to harm them.
“Does that look like a mother who wants to kill her child?” said Holländer. “Just because it happened doesn’t mean she committed a crime.”
Hollander has requested a new trial, saying “mistakes” led to her conviction. If that request is granted, she said she wanted a new attorney, and told the judge in July that her attorney had not defended her the way she wanted.
With mail wires
https://nypost.com/2022/08/08/sentencing-delayed-again-for-vegan-mom-guilty-of-starving-son-to-death/ The sentencing of vegan mother Sheila O’Leary, who starved a toddler, has been postponed again