Tampa man accused of killing ex-girlfriend's unborn child

Tampa man accused of killing ex-girlfriend's unborn child

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Previous court recordings obtained by the Tampa Tribune detail why the 28-year-old son of a Florida fertility doctor has been charged by federal authorities with tricking his girlfriend into taking a pill used to induce labor and cause an abortion, killing the fetus she was carrying.

John Andrew Welden was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of product tampering and first-degree murder. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. He's also the defendant in a lawsuit filed in state court by his ex-girlfriend, 26-year-old Remee Lee.

"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. "She's devastated. She still can't believe this happened to her."

David Weisbrod, who represented Welden in the first federal court appearance Wednesday, declined to comment to The Associated Press. During the hearing Wednesday, Weisbrod characterized his client's actions as aberrant, but said Welden had no criminal history. A U.S. magistrate judge ordered him held without bond.

"He made it perfectly clear to me numerous times he didn't want the child," Remee Lee said in an emotionally-charged hearing in April when she was attempting to get a restraining order against Welden.

According to court documents, the couple met in mid-2012 and became romantically involved. Lee became pregnant in February 2013 and was elated about her pregnancy when she told Welden the news.

"All I wanted was the child," she said. "I never thought he'd be capable to do something like this to me."

Welden urged Lee not to have the baby.

In late March, the records say, Lee went to the office of Dr. Stephen Welden, her boyfriend's father, for an exam.

Court records say Welden told Lee that his father had discovered she had a bacterial infection and had prescribed an antibiotic, Amoxicillin, to treat her.

Lee and her attorney, along with federal prosecutors, say Welden forged his father's signature on a prescription for Cytotec and relabeled a pill bottle as "Amoxicillin." Cytotec, known also as misoprostol, is a drug used to induce labor.

It is typically taken in conjunction with another drug, mifepristone, to cause an abortion during the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone, which is typically taken first, causes an embryo to detach from the uterine wall. Misoprostol is typically taken two days later to cause contractions and push the embryo out of the uterus. These drugs are not the same as Plan B, or the "morning after pill", which is intended to prevent pregnancy.

Lee was six weeks and five days pregnant.

"I started bleeding and I got ... I just knew there was something wrong after I ate that medicine," she said. "He came to try and retrieve the pills. I had them put away because I did go to a pharmacist and he said they were not amoxicillin."

Welden said she began to bleed while at work and went to the hospital, where she discovered that she had been given the drug used in medically induced abortions.

Court records say Welden told Lee while she was at the hospital that he had given her Cytotec, not Amoxicillin. Lee is suing Welden for battery, intentional infliction of emotional harm, and punitive damages.

She said she had planned a future with and wanted to "watch cartoons, play with toys and be happy for once and he took all of that away from me. I don't know why he did this. I don't know why he hates me so much. I don't know why this was so bad to have baby with me. I don't know what's wrong with me that we just couldn't be happy."

Welden's father, the doctor, has not been accused of wrongdoing, and has not been charged with any crime. Someone answering the phone at his OB-GYN office in Tampa hung up when a reporter called.

Attorney Kevin Hayslett is not involved in the case, but he says it may have far-reaching implications.

Hayslett says, "You've got to remember, this is a federal case now, so this affects every state."

Hayslett says the facts of the case may put a father's rights against those of a mother.

"Every day in Anytown USA, there is mother who makes the decision that she is going to abort the unborn fetus," says Hayslett. "Yet, the father wants the child. The father has no right to force her to have that child, and when she aborts the child, the federal government or the state government takes zero action against her, there's no crime, there is no civil action, and yet the father has standing because technically, it's half his."

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