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Hillsborough County Man Charged with Murder for Killing Unborn Child

John "Andrew" Welden, the son of a Lutz fertility doctor, has been charged with first-degree murder and product tampering in Tampa's federal court. Federal prosecutors alleged Welden killed an ex-girlfriend's unborn child by tricking her into taking an abortion drug.

Prosecutors claim Welden forged his father Dr. Stephen Ward Welden's on a prescription for Cytotec, a drug used to induce abortion or to treat a "missed" miscarriage. He reportedly relabeled a pill bottle as "Amoxicillin" and told the woman that his father wanted her on antibiotics.

The woman took a pill on her way to work, then quickly felt abdominal pain and began bleeding, the prosecutor said. She lost the baby at a hospital.

The incident occurred in March after an ultrasound at the elder Welden's office confirmed the pregnancy. The doctor, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, has not been accused of any crime.

The woman, Remee Lee, was six weeks and five days pregnant. Her attorney has indicated that she was excited about the pregnancy and wished to keep the baby.

Welden could not be charged with the murder of a 6-week-old fetus in Florida's state courts because Florida's laws reference unborn children which were a viable gestational age. Federal law, however, is different. The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 defines "unborn child" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

Murder is not typically prosecuted in federal court, absent additional crimes and circumstances. If someone kills an unborn child while committing a federal crime though, it's considered murder. Welden faces life in prison if convicted.

In Welden's case, the federal crime authorities claim he committed as part of the murder is product tampering, "with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury." This references the re-labeling of the prescription drug Cytotec.

Welden allegedly admitted his actions in a confession recorded by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detectives and a drugstore surveillance camera captured the Cytotec purchase, according to prosecutors.

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  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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