Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell guilty of murdering three babies

After 10 days of deliberations, a jury found Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. He was accused of performing illegal late-term abortions.

Matt Rourke/AP
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks the courthouse in Philadelphia on Monday. Dr. Gosnell was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed. He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the drug-overdose death of a patient who had undergone an abortion.

A Philadelphia jury found abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell guilty on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter, acquitting him of one murder charge Monday.

The prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Dr. Gosnell, who was accused of performing illegal, late-term abortions and delivering at least four babies alive before using scissors to sever their spines and kill them.

Monday marked the tenth day of deliberations after several weeks of testimony, which included graphic descriptions of Gosnell’s clinic and abortion practice. He ran the Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia for 30 years, performing as many as 1,000 abortions annually and making about $1.8 million a year, the prosecution said.

"He created an assembly line with no regard for these women whatsoever," said prosecutor Ed Cameron, during closing arguments.

Federal agents raided the clinic in 2010, searching for drug violations. Instead, they found "deplorable and unsanitary" conditions: blood on the floor, unsterile medical instruments, and parts of aborted fetuses in jars and bags.

The full charges against Gosnell, who was first indicted by a grand jury in 2011, included four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four newborns, one count of third-degree murder in the 2009 death of a Bhutanese refugee during an abortion procedure, and more than 200 other counts including violating Pennsylvania’s abortion law, racketeering, and conspiracy charges.

Eight people who worked at the clinic, including Gosnell’s wife, have already pleaded guilty to other crimes. Three pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for assisting in Karnamaya Mongar’s 2009 overdose death, and for cutting babies in the back of the neck to make sure they were dead. They testified that Gosnell regularly aborted babies past the state’s 24-week limit, including ones who where moving, breathing, or whimpering before they were killed.

Earlier Monday, the jury told judge Jeffrey Mineheart that they were deadlocked on two of the counts, though they did not say which ones. Judge Minehart instructed them to try to reach a unanimous verdict, and that their progress showed they were “considering the evidence seriously," CNN reported.

During the trial, defense attorney Jack McMahon called no witnesses and his client did not testify. In closing arguments on April 30, Mr. McMahon said that Gosnell was targeted because he is black and rejected the claims that babies were born alive. He said Ms. Mongar died of medical complications.

McMahon told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the jury should be commended for taking the time to review all the facts of the case.

“If a verdict came back in 10 minutes or one day, then you would think the emotion of it was a little overpowering,” he said. “They gave it careful thought. You could tell that by the time.”

The jury also found codefendent Eileen O’Neill guilty of two counts of theft by deception and two counts of conspiracy for her role as an unlicensed doctor seeing patients at the clinic. She is free on $30,000 bail until sentencing on July 15, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

The jury will hear additional evidence May 21 to determine if Gosnell should get the death penalty. He will also go to trial Sept. 9 on federal drug charges. Authorities say he ranked third in the state for OxyContin prescriptions and let clinic workers prescribe the drug, a powerful narcotic, without inspecting the patient.

• Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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