NewsLocal NewsLee County


TIMELINE: O'Leary child abuse case

Posted at 6:10 AM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2023-02-27 17:49:38-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — An update has been given regarding the child abuse case that occurred in 2019.

As of February 27th, 2023, Ryan Patrick O'Leary (33 years old), was adjudicated guilty and sentenced in two cases. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for one count of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child and also 30 years in prison, followed by lifetime Sex Offender Probation, for one count of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation.

Here is a look back at the case as it played out since 2019:

Sept. 27, 2019: Cape Coral police respond to a home on 45th Street to treat an 18-month-old child that had stopped breathing. Medical personnel declared the child, Ezra O'Leary, dead at the scene. Detectives note the child appeared extremely malnourished. Two siblings, ages 3, and 5, appear to have suffered malnourishment and/or other forms of abuse. The children are removed from the home.

Nov. 6, 2019: Shortly after the medical examiner's official cause of death is released, parents Sheila and Ryan O'Leary turn themselves in to the Cape Coral Police Department. They are charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child due to neglect, child neglect causing great body harm, and child neglect without great bodily harm.

Nov. 7, 2019: One day later, after making their first court appearance, attorney John Musca tells Fox 4 Ezra O'Leary had been sick six months prior to his death and "had not fully recuperated." He claimed Sheila O'Leary was concerned that the child's teething had caused him to stop eating properly. He denied claims the other children were malnourished. The State Attorney's office counters the claim by revealing a previous DCF investigation for the malnutrition of a third 11-year-old sibling, who now lives out-of-state.

Dec. 18, 2019: Sheila and Ryan O'Leary are indicted by a Lee County grand jury. Charges are subsequently upgraded to include first-degree murder.

June 22, 2022: Trial begins for Sheila O'Leary. Testimony reveals the family follows a strict vegan diet. Investigators said the couple told them the family ate only raw fruits and vegetables, although the toddler also was fed breast milk. The boy weighed just 17 pounds (8 kilograms) and was the size of a seven-month-old baby, a police report said.

June 28, 2022: Sheila O'Leary is found guilty of all charges after rejecting a plea deal. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 25.

July 18, 2022: A motion is filed by Sheila O'Leary seeking a new trial. Attorney Lee Hollander argues her conviction on aggravated manslaughter fell under double-jeopardy rules as she was already convicted of first-degree murder.

July 25, 2022: Hollander tells the judge Sheila wants him to withdraw his representation. "I don't believe that he spoke in my defense the way I wanted him to," Sheila says. The sentencing is postponed to Aug. 8.

Aug. 4, 2022: Ryan O'Leary has new charges added to his case, including sexual assault and lewd/lascivious behavior against a child under the age of 12.

Aug. 8, 2022: Sheila's sentencing is delayed to Aug. 15. The motion for a new trial was still under consideration at this point.

Aug. 15, 2022: It is announced the motion for a new trial is denied. Sentencing is moved to Aug. 26.

Aug. 26, 2022: Court records indicate the sentencing date has been moved once more, to Monday, Aug. 29.

Aug. 29, 2022: Sheila O'Leary is finally sentenced; a judge gives her life in prison plus 65 years for Ezra's death.

Sheila O'Leary was sentenced to life in prison plus 65 years on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022; one month after being found guilty of first-degree murder and several counts of child neglect and abuse.

Attention now moves to her husband, Ryan O'Leary, who is also charged in the death of their infant son Ezra. He is also charged with sex offenses against a minor.