Reckless vegan mum starved baby son to death on diet of only raw fruit and veg
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A mother has been found guilty of murdering her baby son by forcing him to eat a vegan diet of raw fruit and vegetables.
Ezra, son of Sheila O’Leary and husband Ryan O’Leary, was discovered not breathing at their home in Cape Coral in Florida weighing only 17lbs (7kg) on September 27, 2019.
He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. The average recommended weight of a boy aged 18 months is 24lb (10.9kg).
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The 35-year-old mum told investigators the entire family is vegan and only eats raw fruit and vegetables, and revealed her baby had not eaten anything other than breast milk in the week leading up to his death.
A post mortem concluded the baby had died from complications stemming from malnutrition.
Francine Donnorummo, Special Victims Unit chief at Florida State's Attorney’s Office, blasted O'Leary for forcing her lifestyle on the son and said: “She made choices that killed her child. Her pride cost Ezra his life. It is a reckless disregard for human life.”
The court also heard that their three other children, aged three, five and 11, were found to have discoloured skin and blackened teeth. They have since been taken into care.
Sheila's attorney Lee Hollander used photographs of her with Ezra in court to argue that the death was a tragic accident, asking: “Does that look like a mom who wants to kill her kid?”
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“Just because it happened doesn’t mean she committed a crime.”
Reacting to the materials presented in court, State Attorney Amira Fox said: “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."
O’Leary will be sentenced later this month, on July 25 after being found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder and child abuse.
Ezra's father, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, 33, has been indicted on similar charges and is still awaiting trial.
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