Florida mom found guilty of starving son to death to be sentenced

Posted at 1:34 PM, July 25, 2022 and last updated 1:34 PM, July 25, 2022

By Calvin Lewis

FORT MYERS, Fla. (WFTX) — A mother charged in the death of her 18-month-old son finds out her punishment later today.

Sheila O’Leary was convicted of first-degree murder last month, after her son died from what investigators said was severe malnutrition and dehydration.

Sheila O’Leary

O’Leary was also found guilty of aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, two counts of child neglect, and one count of child abuse.

While O’Leary has already been found guilty in the death of her 18-month old, her attorney is expected to make a case for a new trial later this morning. Attorney Lee Hollander says he submitted the motion on behalf of O’Leary. He argues that O’Leary should not have been convicted of aggravated manslaughter because she was also convicted of murder.

Hollander is calling this a double jeopardy argument, saying O’Leary should only be convicted of one crime for killing her child. He will also argue the judge did not tell the jury this is a possible death penalty case.

Hollander is also saying one of O’Leary’s children should not have been allowed to testify against her remotely. O’Leary and her husband, Ryan Patrick O’Leary, were indicted by a jury in December 2019 after the death of their son earlier that September.

During the trial, prosecutors argue the 18-month-old boy died from severe malnutrition and dehydration.

According to the State Attorney’s Office there were other children, a 3-year-old, 5-year-old and 11-year-old, who also experienced ‘extreme child neglect and abuse.’

O’Leary will be in court at 1:30 this afternoon for the sentencing phase and those motions her attorney has in store.

This story was originally published July 25, 2022 by WFTX in Fort Myers-Naples, an E.W. Scripps Company.

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