Plea deal thrown out in Tampa abortion pill case - WFLA News Channel 8

Plea deal thrown out in Tampa abortion pill case

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Welden leaves the federal courthouse with his private security guard after a hearing about his sentencing. Welden leaves the federal courthouse with his private security guard after a hearing about his sentencing.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - A plea deal in a case involving a drug that can cause abortions has been set aside by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara. John Andrew Welden had agreed to accept the deal instead of a trial.

Welden admitted that he gave his then girlfriend the drug Cytotec. Experts say Cytotec can cause early contractions in a pregnancy and the loss of an unborn child.

Related story: Tampa man pleads guilty to tricking pregnant girlfriend

Evidence shows Welden relabeled a pill bottle as "amoxicillin" and convinced his girlfriend to take the pill. Welden is also plead guilty to federal charges of product tampering and mail fraud.

Welden admitted to forging a prescription and illegally obtaining the Cytotec. Welden's father is a gynecologist, and he obtained the paper for the prescription from him, then forged his father's signature.

At one time Welden faced a possible sentence of life in prison for killing the unborn child. Under the terms of the plea agreement he agreed to a sentence of 13 years and 8 months behind bars.

Related: more on the abortion pill case.

On Dec. 6 U.S. Judge Lazzara set aside the plea deal saying government prosecutors had not proven that one dose of the drug Cytotec caused Welden's girlfriend to lose her unborn baby.

Welden's defense attorney Todd Foster says the move by the judge was not unexpected.

"If you recall back to the time that we did the plea, he advised the parties, I may accept and I may reject it, so there's nothing for certain and he exorcized that prerogative. It's completely his call to accept it or reject it," said Foster.

Prominent defense attorney John Fitzgibbons is not involved in this case, but he has served as a Federal Prosecutor.

Fitzgibbons says the move by the judge is not common.

"It is quiet unusual. A Federal judge has tremendous power over a case, but this potential exercise of his power is quiet unusual.", said Fitzgibbons.

Welden's girlfriend Remee Lee says that after taking the pill that Welden gave her she started to feel ill, had internal bleeding and went to the hospital where doctors told her she had lost the child.

Related story: Victim in abortion pill case sues former boyfriend

Expert witnesses for the defense have now presented opinions to Judge Lazzara that one dose of the drug was not enough to have such a severe affect.

Expert witnesses for the prosecution say severe harm could be caused to the mother and cause the death of the unborn child.

Judge Lazzara says he wants to hear testimony from the experts on both sides of the case so that he can make his own findings of fact and then he will rule on the sentence for Welden.

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