A US mother who followed a vegan diet has been found guilty of murdering her 18-month-old son after only feeding him raw fruits and vegetables.
Florida woman Sheila O'Leary, 39, is facing life behind bars after a jury found her guilty of murder and a range of child abuse charges over the 2019 death of her son, Ezra O'Leary, the Fort Myers News-Press reported.
Little Ezra weighed only 7.7kg when he died, more than 3kg below the average, and had been exclusively on fruit and vegetables, supplemented by breast milk.
Ezra's father, Ryan O'Leary, remains in custody and faces trial on the same charges.
"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.
O'Leary's ex-husband told the court that the pair had attended court-ordered parenting classes.
"It was a class to educate new parents ... or parents in general," Khang Chen said. "How to raise a healthy child."
Prosecutors used that as evidence that O'Leary knew what she needed to do, but argued that her pride prevented her from doing it.
"This was a thought-out, planned course of action," Donnorummo said.
"She knew what she needed to do."
She also said that O'Leary's oldest child, Lilly, had been diagnosed with failure to thrive.
"Ignorance is not a defence in this case," she said.
She said O'Leary had told police her son hadn't eaten in the week leading up to his death.
"She made choices that killed her child. Her pride cost Ezra his life. It is a reckless disregard for human life," Donnorummo told the court.
The defence claimed it was a "tragically horrible situation" but argued that O'Leary loved her children and there was no medical proof of neglect.
Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller then told the court it was clear a crime had been committed.
"She chose to disregard Ezra's suffering," Miller said. "She chose to disregard his cries."
"She didn't need a scale to see his bones. She didn't need a scale to hear his cry."