(Photo: Screen Grab via ABC Action News)
A 29-year-old Florida man who tricked his ex-girlfriend into taking an abortion pill, causing her to miscarry at six weeks, was sentenced on Monday to 13 years and eight months in federal prison.
"I don't believe Mr. Welden's an evil person, but he committed an evil act, and he's going to pay the consequences," said U.S. District Judge Richard Al Lazzara, according to The Tampa Tribune.
John Andrew Welden apologized for tricking his girlfriend at the time, Remee Jo Lee, into taking an abortion pill in May 2013 after finding out that she was pregnant.
"I've caused everyone a huge amount of emotional pain," Welden said before the court. "What I've done will stay with me every day for the rest of my life." He added that he spoke with "the most humble and remorseful heart" and wanted to express "sincere contrition" for his actions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow previously explained the details behind the case, writing in a report that Welden forged the signature of his father, a practicing OB/GYN doctor, to obtain a prescription for the abortion drug Misoprostol.
After acquiring the drug from a local pharmacy, he switched the label on it with the common antibiotic Amoxicillin, and gave it to Lee, telling her that his father wanted her to take the pill for a bacterial infection. After taking the drug, Lee experienced abdominal pain and bleeding, but before she could receive medical help she lost her 6-week-old unborn baby.
The 29-year-old apparently tricked his ex-girlfriend because he did not want his other girlfriend at the time finding out about the relationship.
Lee has insisted, however, that she would have been fine with taking care of the child without Welden's help, and that she would not have asked him for money or told her parents that the baby was his.
"That fairy tale morphed into my own personal inferno when he decided to murder our child," Lee said in court, saying that Welden had continuously lied to her and made her believe he was caring and compassionate.
"I wanted this baby more than anything. Not because it was Andrew's, but it was my baby as well," she added, according to The Daily Mail.
Welden's lawyers unsuccessfully tried to prove that the single dosage he tricked Lee into taking could not have been enough to cause the death of the baby, with defense expert Rebecca Allen arguing that "at most, one 200-microgram tablet may cause slight nausea, diarrhea, transient fever/chills, or minor abdominal discomfort."
Prosecution experts from the University of South Florida testified, however, that it is highly likely that the Misoprostol dose was indeed what caused Lee to lose the baby.
"[The drug] did exactly what it was intended to do, and that resulted in the demise of the embryo," argued OB-GYN expert Catherine Lynch.
Judge Lazzara agreed to allow Welden to serve his sentence at a prison camp, and gave him another three years of probation following his release, while Lee was ordered to receive $28,000 in restitution.