Sunday, 14 April, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalLife behind bars for vegan mother who starved baby to death

Life behind bars for vegan mother who starved baby to death

A vegan mother in Florida, US, has been given a life sentence for murder for the malnutrition death of her 18-month-old son, who was fed on a diet of raw fruits and vegetables, was severely malnourished, and weighed just 7.7kg when he died in September 2019.

Sheila O’Leary was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, child abuse and two counts of child neglect.

O’Leary and her husband, Ryan, told police they fed their children a strict vegan diet of raw fruit and vegetables: Ezra was also breastfed, reports The Independent.

Apart from Ezra, three other children, a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and an 11-year-old, also suffered from extreme neglect and child abuse, said prosecutors.

O’Leary was convicted after three hours of deliberations by a jury in Lee County, Florida, after a five-day trial. During the trial, the jury was told by prosecutors that the mother “chose to disregard his cries”.

The boy’s father has been charged with the same crimes as his wife, as well as sexual assault of a victim under 12, and lewd and lascivious behaviour/molestation of a victim younger than 12. He remains in prison and has yet to face trial.

His wife was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder and also sentenced to 30 years for aggravated child abuse and 30 years for aggravated manslaughter of a child, according to the the Office of the State Attorney. She was also sentenced to five years in prison on two counts of child neglect and one count of child abuse.


The Independent article – Vegan mother jailed for life after 18-month-old son starved to death on diet of raw fruits and vegetables (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Underweight odds likelier with vegetarian diet children – Canadian cohort study


Vegan diet significantly alters metabolism and depletes nutrients in the young


Babies given solid food sooner sleep better – large UK study



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