Tampa, Florida - Amid tight security, John Andrew Welden left federal court Monday looking at a hefty prison sentence, but not life behind bars. The 28-year-old avoided a first-degree murder charge by accepting a plea deal.
With his former girlfriend, Remee Jo Lee, looking on, Welden admitted to Judge Richard Lazzara that he tricked Lee into taking the abortion pill Cytotec. To do that, Welden forged a prescription using his father's name, an OB/GYN, and put a phony Amoxicillin label on the bottle.
After taking one pill, Lee, who was six to seven weeks pregnant, miscarried.
After the hearing, Welden's attorney Todd Foster told reporters that no one "feels good" pleading guilty, but that the stakes of going forward with a trial were high. "The possibility of a mandatory life sentence, no discretion to the judge, obviously is a big factor," said Foster.
At times on Monday, while listening to the recitation of the case facts, Lee daubed her eyes with a tissue.
After the hearing, Lee did not speak, but her attorney made a statement regarding the plea deal. "This has been an extremely difficult time for the Remee family, the Lee family, and nothing is going to bring back what was taken from her," said Gil Sanchez.
For now, Welden continues to be on house arrest, with his family paying for two around-the-clock guards. However, with a plea in place, and a reduced prison sentence likely, his attorney intends to argue for a security downgrade.
Welden's sentencing date is scheduled for December 5. His attorneys and prosecutors have agreed to a proposed prison sentence of 13 years and eight months, with three years of supervision afterwards. However the judge can deviate from that recommendation.
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