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Cape Coral mother found guilty of starving son wants new attorney

Posted at 7:30 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 14:26:20-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A mother charged with the death of her 18-month-old son requested new counsel and will now be sentenced on August 8, 2022.

She told the court on Monday afternoon, “I don’t believe that he spoke in my defense the way I wanted him to during the trial”

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

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.

She asked the judge to hear the motion filed by her current Attorney Lee Hollander.

While O’Leary has already been found guilty in the death of her 18-month-old, her attorney made a case for a new trial later this morning. Attorney 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.’

If she gets a new trial, she wants new counsel.

The judge will not appoint a public defender at this time.