TAMPA, Fla. — Sentencing has been postponed in the case of a Florida man who tricked his girlfriend into taking abortion-inducing drugs to end the life of their unborn baby.
John Andrew Welden, 28, accepted a plea deal in September after admitting to giving his girlfriend, 27-year-old Remee Jo Lee, the pill Cytotec (misoprostol) to induce an abortion. The two had met at a strip club earlier this year and began a relationship, although Weldon was already in a long-term relationship with another woman.
When Lee discovered that she was pregnant, she told Welden that she wanted to continue the pregnancy, but Welden suggested that she abort.
“I wanted this baby more than anything,” she told ABC News. “Not because it was Andrew’s, but it was my baby as well.”
According to reports, in March of this year, Welden forged the signature of his father, an obstetrician, to obtain the drug and relabeled the bottle as Amoxcillin, an antibiotic. He then told Lee that his father had advised that she had an infection and that she should take the antibiotics he provided.
However, shortly after Lee ingested one of the pills, she experienced severe cramping and went to the hospital. She then miscarried the 7-week baby.
Welden was arrested in May and charged under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole. However, prosecutors later dropped the charge, which was changed to mail fraud and product tampering, as he had received the prescription by mail.
The product tampering charge was enhanced due to the belief that Welden had caused bodily injury by inducing an abortion. He faces 13 years, 8 months in prison as part of his plea agreement.
However, U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzary has delayed Welden’s sentencing, which was set for Monday, as he wishes to hear expert testimony on the potency of the drug Cyotec. Welden’s attorneys assert that the 200 microgram dose that was ingested by Lee was not strong enough to have resulted in the abortion. They contend that approximately 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage and that Lee might have miscarried regardless of the presence of Cyotec in her system.
Attorneys for the prosecution, however, put the court on notice that he had government experts available that could testify to the ability of Cyotec to induce an abortion.
Therefore, because Lazzary has questions about whether Welden should be held responsible for the death of the child, he will hear testimony in the days ahead and serve as the sole fact finder before issuing a sentence.
Reports state that if Lazzary exonerates Welden in causing “bodily injury,” his sentence could be reduced to three years instead of thirteen.