Jury to weigh fate of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in murder trial

Kermit Gosnell
Dr. Kermit Gosnell. (Credit: File photo)

The murder case against a Philadelphia doctor accused of killing four infants and a patient during late-term abortions was expected to go to a jury on Tuesday.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, who ran the now-shuttered Women’s Medical Society Clinic, faces the death penalty if convicted.

The case focuses on whether the infants were born alive and then killed.

A seven-woman, five-man jury in Common Pleas Court, where the trial is in its sixth week, was to begin deliberations on Tuesday, after receiving instructions from Judge Jeffrey Minehart.

The charges against Gosnell and nine of his employees have added more fuel to the debate in the United States about late-term abortions.

It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy. Other states have recently put new restrictions on abortions, with Arkansas banning them at 12 weeks and North Dakota at six weeks.

Gosnell is charged with first-degree murder for delivering live babies during late-term abortions and then deliberately severing their spinal cords, prosecutors said.

His defense contends there is no evidence the babies were alive after they were aborted.

Defense lawyer Jack McMahon, in his closing argument on Monday, cited testimony by Medical Examiner Sam Gulino, who said none of the 47 babies tested randomly from the West Philadelphia clinic had been born alive.

“You may not like that evidence, but it is the evidence,” McMahon said.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron said in his closing argument that witnesses testified that one of the aborted babies was breathing before its neck was cut, another made a whining sound and another moved its arms and legs.

“You have three witnesses who saw a baby breathe and move, and he killed it,” Cameron said.

‘House of Horrors’

The clinic that prosecutors call a “house of horrors” has been cited as powerful evidence by both abortion and anti-abortion rights groups.

Reverend Frank Pavone, director of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, said the often gory trial testimony “will change the conversation … It’ll help people engage and make them realize they’re not just talking about a theoretical idea.”

Abortion-rights activists said Gosnell was an outlier among predominantly safe and legal abortion providers.

“Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, not a healthcare facility, and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Testimony has depicted a filthy clinic serving mostly low-income women in the largely black community. McMahon said Gosnell was a physician who wanted to help his community.

“Dr. Gosnell never turned down a desperate and troubled young lady because they didn’t have any money,” he said.

Gosnell is also charged with murdering Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, who died from a drug overdose after going to him for an abortion, prosecutors said.

The defense lawyer said Mongar was given guideline amounts of the drug Demerol as an anesthesia during the abortion, as had hundreds of other women at the clinic.

Gosnell, who has been in jail since his January 2011 arrest, is being tried along with Eileen O’Neill, a medical graduate student accused of billing patients and insurance companies as if she had been a licensed doctor. Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and are awaiting sentencing.

(Additional reporting by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Scott Malone and Lisa Von Ahn)



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…

Style

Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.