Vegan mom Sheila O'Leary's conviction stands in toddler son's starvation death

·2 min read

A woman convicted of starving her infant son to death will not have a new trial

Judge Bruce Kyle rejected seven motions by Sheila O'Leary's lawyer on Monday saying none met the criteria. Her sentencing was delayed for a third time, and will be 1:30 p.m. Aug. 26.

A jury convicted O'Leary, 38, of Cape Coral in July on: first-degree murder; aggravated child abuse; aggravated manslaughter; child abuse; and two counts of child neglect, in the Sept. 27, 2019 death of her son Ezra O'Leary, 18 months.

Sheila O’Leary’s sentencing was delayed on Monday, August 15, 2022. A motion for a new trial was also denied. Sentencing has been rescheduled.
Sheila O’Leary’s sentencing was delayed on Monday, August 15, 2022. A motion for a new trial was also denied. Sentencing has been rescheduled.

O'Leary's lawyer, Lee Hollander, said he only received an ordered pre-sentencing report "five minutes ago."

The Department of Corrections investigates the background of a person convicted of a crime before sentencing to check possible extenuating circumstances which could influence a sentence. The same report delayed previous attempts to sentence O'Leary.

She faces a life sentence in prison.

Hollander also argued in court documents that the first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter charges amounted to double jeopardy, and O'Leary's eldest child testified remotely in violation of O'Leary's right to confront her accuser, among other motions.

O'Leary, her hair in a high ponytail and wearing a dark red jail jumpsuit, stood quietly at the podium as lawyers defended the motion.

Sentencing delays: Sentencing, new trial hearing, delayed again for Cape Coral mom in toddler death case

Starvation death: Vegan Cape Coral mom found guilty in toddler son's 2019 malnutrition death

Ezra's father, Ryan O'Leary, remains in Lee County Jail and faces a trial on the same charges, as well as on two molestation charges.

Dad: New charges filed against Ryan O'Leary in Cape Coral child death; trial hearing cancelled

Sheila O'Leary's sentencing was delayed on Monday, August 15, 2022. A motion for a new trial was also denied. Sentencing has been rescheduled.
Sheila O'Leary's sentencing was delayed on Monday, August 15, 2022. A motion for a new trial was also denied. Sentencing has been rescheduled.

The O’Learys told police after Ezra’s death that the family followed a strict vegan diet, eating only raw fruits and vegetables, but that the toddler was also fed breast milk.

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

The O'Learys had three other children in the home, the eldest now living with her father.

Hollander's defense indicated the medical examiner concluded the death was an accident after he conducted the autopsy and toxicology reports on Ezra.

Sheila O’Leary’s sentencing was delayed on Monday, August 15, 2022. A motion for a new trial was also denied. Sentencing has been rescheduled.
Sheila O’Leary’s sentencing was delayed on Monday, August 15, 2022. A motion for a new trial was also denied. Sentencing has been rescheduled.

News-Press archives contributed to this report.

Stacey Henson is the breaking news and visuals editor for the News-Press and Naples Daily News You may reach her at shenson@gannett.com

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Cape Coral mom Sheila O'Leary denied new murder trial in son's death