Federal judge to hear expert witnesses in John Welden case

Accused of giving ex-girlfriend miscarriage pill

TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge will hear expert witnesses from both sides in the case of a man accused of tricking his girlfriend into taking a miscarriage inducing pill.

The U.S. attorney said Thursday this is a very rare and unique case. While Welden already pleaded guilty, witnesses will still testify before the judge decides how much prison time he'll get.

The final step before Welden's sentencing will come next month when medical experts will tell a federal judge if they think a drug called Cytotec caused Remee Jo Lee to have a miscarriage.

"I think what our experts say is that one cannot know, that the state of science and the state of medical research, just doesn't permit that answer," said Welden's attorney Todd Foster.

Lee was Welden's pregnant girlfriend, and Welden admits he tricked her into taking a pill that she thought was an antibiotic.

Welden's attorney will call two doctors and a pharmacologist to testify. Prosecutors say they have two experts that will testify the drug did indeed cause Lee to lose the baby.

Welden pleaded guilty to product tampering and mail fraud, but prosecutors say that tampering caused serious and possibly permanent injury to Lee.

The U.S. Attorney's office says while they will present witnesses, they believe if the defense calls rebuttal witnesses, that would breach the plea deal.

But Judge Richard Lazarra doesn't agree and will give both sides the same opportunity.

"He's a federal U.S. District Court judge, he has the final say, and it's within his province that's a legitimate and entirely appropriately exercise of his discretion," said Foster.

Welden, who is under house arrest, was not in court for Thursday's hearing.

Judge Lazarra ruled armed security guards can scale back from 24-hours to 12-hours, as long as Welden's parents are home to keep an eye on him.

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