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Florida Judge Denies Vegan Mom Convicted Of Starving 18-Month-Old Son To Death A New Trial

A Florida judge denied several motions requesting a new trial for Sheila O'Leary, a vegan mom convicted in the starvation death of her 18-month-old son. 

By Constance Johnson
Tragic and Disturbing Cases of Child Abuse

The Florida vegan mother convicted of starving her 18-month-old son to death has been denied a new trial.

On Monday, the attorney for Sheila O’Leary presented seven motions requesting a new trial, each was rejected by Judge Bruce Kyle because each failed to meet the criteria, the State Attorney’s Office confirmed to Oxygen.com.

Her sentencing was delayed for a third time and is now scheduled for Aug. 26.

O’Leary’s attorney Lee Hollander requested the delay because he said he had only received the pre-sentencing report “five minutes ago,” the Fort Myers News Press reported.       

In June, a Lee County jury deliberated for about three hours before finding O’Leary, 38, guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, two counts of child neglect, and one count of child abuse.

Hollander said that the first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter charges were the equivalent to double jeopardy, the News Press reported.

Ryan Sheila Oleary Pd

He also argued that O’Leary was denied the right to confront her accuser because her oldest child testified against her remotely.  

Prosecutors presented evidence during the five-day trial that the 18-month-old, Ezra O’Leary, died from complications from severe malnutrition and dehydration, according to release from the State Attorney’s Office. The toddler died on September 27, 2019.

He was born at home and had never seen a doctor, according to News Channel 2, which cited an arrest report. He only weighed 17 pounds at the time of his death.

She told investigators that the toddler hadn’t eaten for a week before he died, according to WPLG.

The station also reported that O’Leary had previously rejected a 30-year plea deal from the state.

O’Leary’s husband, Ryan, is awaiting trial on the same charges and two molestation charges.

The three other alleged victims were a 3-year-old, 5-year-old and 11-year-old girl. Prosecutors said they suffered from extreme neglect and child abuse.

The couple told authorities that they followed a strict vegan diet consisting of raw fruit and vegetables, but the youngest victim was also fed breast milk, according to the News Press.

“This child did not eat. He was starved to death over 18 months,"  Francine Donnorummo, Special Victims Unit chief at the State Attorney's Office, said in her closing arguments, the News Press reported.

She said previously in 2019: “The evidence and crime scene in this case are gut-wrenching. These are images as a mother, and State Attorney I will not be able to forget. I commend the detectives and officers with the Cape Coral Police Department for their difficult task of dealing with the horrendous nature of this case.”