John Andrew Welden, the Florida man who tricked his pregnant girlfriend into taking an “abortion pill,” will serve nearly 14 years in federal prison, a Florida court ruled on Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Lazzara in Tampa, Fla. also sentenced 29-year-old Welden to three months of supervision following his release and ordered him to pay $28,500 in restitution to his former girlfriend, 27-year-old Remee Jo Lee. By duping her into taking a drug known to cause miscarriage, Welden deprived Lee of her constitutional right to take their baby to term in “the most cowardly of ways,” Judge Lazzara held. “I don’t believe Mr. Welden’s an evil person, but he committed an evil act,” he continued. “And he’s going to pay the consequences.”
In September 2013, Welden admitted to tricking the then-pregnant Lee into taking Cytotec, a brand-name version of misoprostol known to cause miscarriage. According to court documents from his arraignment, he relabeled the bottle as “amoxicillin,” a common antibiotic. He then told Lee that his father, an OB/GYN in the Tampa area, had prescribed her the pills to treat an infection that could otherwise interfere with the pregnancy.
Almost immediately after she took the pills, she began experiencing severe cramps. When she sought care at a nearby hospital, doctors told her that she had been exposed to a labor inducing drug. She miscarried shortly thereafter.
"I was never going to do anything but go full term with it, and he didn't want me to," Lee said in an interview with WPTV in Tampa last summer. "He came to my house with the pills, his weapon of choice.”
“A Caring Person”
Welden, who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was described by friends and family as a loving, loyal, and selfless young man with dreams of going to medical school. “Andrew is a caring person,” his father, Dr. Stephen Welden, told the court. “It’s what he does; it’s who he is.”
However, few of these sentiments were echoed by the victim’s family, who called Welden a callous, calculating pothead responsible for the death of his own child. “This was not a mistake,” Lee’s mother, Rosa, said. “He made a plan and followed through with it.”
After handing down the sentence, Judge Lazzara denied a request from the defense that Welden remain free until federal prison officials determine where he will serve his time, ordering him to report to U.S. Marshals no later than 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. “There comes a time when justice exacts its due, and that time has come for Mr. Welden,” Judge Lazzara concluded.