John Welden sentenced to 13 years, eight months for slipping his girlfriend an abortion pill

7:40 PM, Jan 27, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- It was sentencing day for the Bay area man who confessed to slipping his former girlfriend an abortion pill to end their pregnancy.

The case has made national headlines. At a hearing earlier this month, a federal judge ruled the pill used by John Andrew Welden is what caused his then-girlfriend, Remee Jo Lee, to miscarry.

On Monday, the judge stuck with the sentencing guidelines in the case and sentenced Welden to 13 years and eight months in a minimum security federal prison. Under federal guidelines, Welden faced up to 14 years in prison. A plea agreement called for slightly less than that in exchange for dropping murder charges.

Welden had walked into court earlier for what he would later call a "crushing fear" of this day. He had eight friends and family members speak on his behalf, including his father a well-known Bay area physician, who apologized through tears and asked the court for mercy.

Welden also spoke for himself. He too apologized repeatedly. And while Judge Lazzara said Welden is "not evil, he committed an evil act," depriving Lee of her pregnancy in "the most cowardly way".

Prosecutors say Welden forged a signature in March 2013 on a prescription for Cytotec and relabeled a pill bottle as "Amoxicillin" and told his then-girlfriend to take the pills. Cytotec is used to induce labor.

Remee Jo Lee, who also took the stand, spoke about the pain she had and still suffers. She glared at Welden, calling him a "dunce". Everything he had told her, she said, was a lie.

"I always wonder about what could have been," she sobbed, had the baby she called Memphis survived.

As Lee left the court, she showed news cameras the photo frame she had clutched during her testimony. It was filled with images from her sonograms.

"The only thing I want now," she said, "is for the court to show Andrew the same amount of mercy he showed me in my pregnancy," she said.

And that was essentially what the court did. Judge Richard Lazzara said in court Welden does not pose an ongoing threat to public safety, but the sentence must serve as an example -- that this type of crime is not acceptable.

Welden has 14 days to appeal the sentence but waived an appeal as part of his plea agreement. He'll remain on house arrest until turning himself over to the U.S. Marshal's service by 9:30 a.m. this Wednesday to begin serving his sentence.

Welden left the court making a brief statement of remorse.

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