APPLETON - A man who was accused of putting an abortion-inducing drug in his girlfriend's drink was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison.
Manishkumar Patel, 45, was convicted in Augustof attempted first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child. His girlfriend didn't ingest the drink, but miscarried weeks later.
Outagamie County Judge John Des Jardins also sentenced Patel to four years of extended supervision.
Patel was charged in November 2007, but spent about a decade on the run before he was arrested in New York in January 2017. He forfeited a $750,000 cash bond — posted by family and friends — when he fled.Patel spoke during the sentencing, which lasted more than two hours, and expressed remorse.
“I have had plenty of time to think about what I did,” he said. “I have no excuse or explanation for my actions.”
Patel admitted to obtaining the drug and giving it to his girlfriend when she was pregnant. At the time, Patel said, he justified his actions because their other child had a lifelong medical condition.
“I was convinced my unborn child would suffer the same fate,” he said. “This did not excuse what I did.”
He also sought to explain why he fled the U.S. for India after he was charged. His father's health seemed to be failing, Patel said, and he felt he needed to see him for what he thought would be the last time.
He claimed he came back because he wanted to resolve the matter before the court.
“I made the decision to return, even though I knew it would cost me my freedom,” he said.
Police first became involved in the case in November 2007, when officers with the Outagamie County Sheriff's Office spoke to Patel's girlfriend about a series of events that took place shortly before her miscarriage about a month earlier.
She had known Patel since 1999 and had been in relationships with him at times, according to a criminal complaint.
They had a child together in 2004, but Patel occasionally denied he was the father, the complaint said. The woman had an earlier miscarriage in November 2006.
She got pregnant with Patel's child in August 2007 and Patel then promised he would commit to her, the complaint said.
On Sept. 17, 2007, the family went to a downtown Appleton restaurant, then to an ice cream shop for dessert. Patel brought her a smoothie while she waited outside in the car, but she saw him split the drink into two cups and "frantically" stir the cup, the complaint said. She took the drink when Patel returned to the car, but didn't drink it.
The woman later looked closely inside the cup and saw a powder inside, the complaint said. She even brought the cup back to the store, where the employees told her they don't put powder in their smoothies.
The woman had a miscarriage on Sept. 30, 2007, the complaint said. About a week later, she sent samples of the substance in the cup to a lab in California, which confirmed it was a drug used to terminate pregnancies.
A lab run by the Food and Drug Administration later confirmed the results, the complaint said.
After the woman got a restraining order against Patel, a Kaukauna police officer watching her home saw a vehicle slow down briefly, then drive away upon seeing the squad car.
When the officer stopped the vehicle, Patel was behind the wheel, the complaint said. The officer saw a pair of binoculars on the floor of the vehicle as he spoke to Patel.
Patel later admitted to driving by the house, despite the restraining order, the complaint said. He also told investigators in an interview that he "didn't need any more babies," and "didn't want more problems."
On Nov. 28, 2007, police searched Patel's house and found an envelope containing pills of the drug used to terminate pregnancies, which Patel described as "abortion pill" when he was questioned by officers, the complaint said. Patel told officers he had the pills shipped to him from India and admitted he gave his girlfriend "one pill," but wouldn't say when or where.
Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis described Patel's pattern of behavior as "completely unacceptable at all levels," and questioned whether he actually cared for his girlfriend, or was simply using her for her money.
Patel's defense attorney, Chadwick Kaehne, said Patel didn't want him to minimize his actions, but to explain the impact his son's medical condition had on Patel's thinking.
"He knows what he did was wrong," Kaehne said.
Des Jardins called Patel's behavior an "extreme case" in which he used his intelligence to gain control of another person.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
Patel doesn’t have a long record of criminal offenses, but Des Jardins said he had to consider the severity of the crime and the impact it had on the victims, including the unborn child.
“I think a steep price has to be paid for someone who engages in this type of behavior,” he said.