The Florida man who tricked his pregnant ex-girlfriend into inducing a miscarriage faces up to 15 years in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty on Monday.
In a plea agreement, 28-year-old John Andrew Welden admitted that he knowingly misled ex-girlfriend Remee Jo Lee by relabeling a pill bottle of Cytotec as the antibiotic amoxicillin. According to The Washington Post, Welden acquired the labor inducing drug by forging the signature of his father, who is an obstetrician in Tampa, Fla. He then told his girlfriend that his father had prescribed her the antibiotic for an infection.
Shortly after taking the pill, Lee sought care for severe cramps and pain. At the hospital, doctors told her that she’d been exposed to the labor inducing drug. She miscarried in her seventh week of pregnancy.
"Whenever a woman is robbed of her ability to give birth and have a child, I don't think there's any greater harm you can cause somebody," said Lee's attorney, Gil Sanchez, speaking to the Associated Press. "She's devastated. She still can't believe this happened to her."
Welden was initially charged with fetal homicide under the Florida’s “Unborn Victims of Violence Act.” The state statute holds that “the unlawful killing of an unborn quick child, by any injury to the mother of such child which would be murder if it resulted in the death of such mother, shall be deemed murder in the same degree as that which would have been committed against the mother.” If convicted, Welden would have faced a mandatory life sentence without parole.
As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution dropped these charges and added mail fraud.
“It’s tragic all around, from every angle,” Todd Foster, Welden’s lawyer, told reporters from The Washington Post. He said he was certain of his client’s remorse, as his actions will leave an indelible mark on his family.
Welden’s conviction is slated for December 5. The plea agreement recommends that he serve 13 years and eight months at a low-security facility. He is also being sued in state court for punitive damages, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional harm.