A mother and father from Florida are on trial for allegedly starving their 18-month-old son to death. Thirty-year-old Ryan O’Leary and his 35-year-old wife Sheila O’Leary have been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and two counts of child neglect.
The couple pled not guilty to the charges against them on December 23. The charges stem from the untimely death of their 18-month-old son Ezra Sage O’Leary, who passed away on September 27, according to the News-Press.
Florida Couple Pleads Not Guilty After the Death of Their 18-Month-Old Son
Ezra reportedly weighed just 17 pounds when he died. It was Sheila who called 911 after she was breastfeeding her son, whose breathing turned shallow. However, instead of calling for help right away, she fell asleep.
They notified 911 after waking up and finding Ezra cold to the touch. Ryan allegedly attempted to resuscitate their little boy, but he was soon after pronounced dead by first responders.
As a Cape Coral probable cause statement reports, according to the News-Press, Ezra’s death was “caused by complications of malnutrition, including dehydration, microsteatosis of the liver and slight edema (swelling) of hands, feet and lower legs.”
Investigators believe Ezra’s weight is in direct correlation to Ryan and Sheila’s raw, vegan lifestyle. Sheila told police during her interview, that their whole family is vegan and only eats fruit and vegetables, like “mangoes, rambutans, bananas, and avocados.”
Three other kids, ages three, five, and 11, were also taken from their home and found to have also been subjected to abuse and extreme neglect. Assistant state attorney Francine H. Donnorummo told the News-Press that two of the surviving children also suffered from malnutrition, and one of the two “had to have teeth pulled because of severe tooth decay and malnutrition.”
The 11-year-old appeared healthier than the other child. However, that child didn’t live with the O’Leary’s full time. She visited her father for weeks at a time throughout the year. The other two children are now in foster care, Fox 4 Now reports.
All of the children were homeschool, and after being born at home, Ezra reportedly had never seen a doctor in his 18 months of life.
In an initial interview with police, Shiela admitted that her son “hadn’t eaten in a week and was only being breastfed.” The mom claimed that she thought her son’s lack of appetite was “because he was teething.”
State Attorney Amira Fox told the News-Press, “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.”
And Master Corporal Phil Mullen with CCPD told Fox 4 Now, “Any time you do see a child that was counting on someone to care for them and those people did something that resulted in their death, it hits you a lot harder.”
Ryan and Sheila are expected to return to the courtroom on January 7. The state of Florida has the ability to waive the death penalty in this particular case. However, that decision has not yet been made.
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.