Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Prosecution: Abortion pill defendant's flight risk too great

TAMPA — Federal prosecutors asked a judge Friday to reconsider letting a man charged with causing the death of his girlfriend's unborn child go free as he awaits trial.

John Andrew Welden, 28, has been in jail since May 15 on federal charges of murder and product tampering. Prosecutors say he tricked a woman he'd impregnated into taking an abortion pill, causing the woman — Remee Jo Lee, 26 — to lose the fetus.

Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli issued an order Monday allowing Welden to leave jail if he pays for private security detail to keep him in his Lutz home. Porcelli has scheduled a hearing for this coming Monday to discuss the feasibility of the plan.

Prosecutors did not wait until then to raise objections to the possible release of Welden, son of gynecologist Stephen Welden.

In the motion filed Friday, prosecutors argue a private security detail should not be a viable condition of release for Welden, whom the judge agreed has an overwhelmingly significant risk of flight.

"There is nothing to suggest that a motivated defendant, like the one here, will not be able to elude the security detail and flee," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow.

Private security could cost $25,000 to $35,000 per month, if not more, a financial burden which prosecutors argued will give Welden's parents incentive to let him flee.

Todd Foster, Welden's attorney, called that argument "baseless."

"We dispute much of (Muldrow's) factual basis and assertions, and we'll make that argument to the court Monday," Foster said.

Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or [email protected]

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