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Cape Coral parents charged with toddler's death

Posted at 6:24 AM, Nov 07, 2019

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A Cape Coral couple are facing manslaughter charges in the death of their 18-month-old son.

Sheila O'Leary, 35, and Ryan Patrick O'Leary, 30, went before a judge Thursday morning. They are facing charges of manslaughter and child neglect in relation to the death of their toddler and neglect of other children in their care who were found extremely malnourished.

Bond has been set for each individual as follows:

  • $200,000 for the charges of aggravated negligent manslaughter of a child
  • $25,000 for the charges of child neglect with harm
  • $25,000 for the charges of child neglect without harm.
  • The judge also ruled that the couple have no contact with the other three children.

According to the Cape Coral Police Department who made the arrests, officers responded to a call on September 27th about an eighteen-month old boy who had stopped breathing. Medical personnel pronounced the child deceased on scene. Detectives with the Major Crimes Unit arrived and noted the extreme malnourishment suffered by both the deceased and his older siblings, ages 3 and 5. The siblings were immediately removed from the home by the Department of Children and Families for their safety.

November 6th, shortly after the official cause of death from the medical examiner, the O’Learys turned themselves in to the Cape Coral Police Department. Both Sheila O’Leary and Ryan O’Leary were charged with one count of aggravated manslaughter of a child due to neglect, one count of child neglect causing great bodily harm, and one count of child neglect without great bodily harm. Both remain in the Lee County Jail.

Fox 4 was first to obtain a statement from attorney John Musca who is representing Sheila O'Leary. Musca stated the following:

"Sheila O’Leary is accused of Aggravated Manslaughter of A Child, a crime which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the mother caused the child’s death by negligence. The child’s death, while tragic, was neither purposeful nor neglectful, but accidental, and is listed on the death certificate as such. For that reason, I’m optimistic the evidence will reveal no neglectful causation of death whatsoever."

The O'Learys are due back in court on December 9th.

Fox 4's Jessica Alpern was live from the last known address of the couple, uncovering breaking details Thursday morning. She shared this video on Facdebook Live: