Kermit Gosnell, the physician accused of turning a Philadelphia abortion clinic into a horror house of fetal remains, was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive during illegal third-trimester procedures. He was acquitted in the death of a fourth child.
Jurors in state court in Philadelphia deliberated 10 days before finding Gosnell guilty of murdering the babies by severing their spinal cords with scissors. Gosnell, 72, was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 41-year-old Virginia resident who overdosed after a November 2009 abortion at his clinic in West Philadelphia. Jurors will begin hearing arguments next week on whether Gosnell should face the death penalty.
Jurors found Gosnell guilty of more than 200 other counts for related crimes including violating a 24-hour waiting period before performing abortions. His attorney Jack McMahon, who likened his defense of the case to a salmon swimming upstream, declined to comment on whether he will appeal.
Gosnell is “disappointed and upset,” McMahon said outside the courthouse. “We aired out our position on this over a long trial, we had a fair trial, we got to put out our position, and the jury spoke.”
Gosnell was arrested along with nine employees in January 2011 and charged with performing late-term abortions in filthy conditions at his Women’s Medical Society clinic. The charges followed an investigation begun in 2010 after drug agents raided the facility and uncovered the death of Karnamaya Mongar, who went into cardiac arrest after clinic employees gave her lethal doses of the narcotic Demerol.
Investigators found women being treated in squalid conditions with old equipment and outdated drugs, prosecutors said. They described the clinic as a “house of horrors” with floors and walls stained with cat urine and blood.
Prosecutors said Gosnell performed illegal abortions and employed unlicensed and unskilled staff members to administer narcotics to patients. Witnesses testified during the trial that Gosnell snipped the necks of at least 30 fetuses. He resorted to that method of terminating pregnancies after he stopped using the drug Digoxin, which causes intrauterine death, before each abortion.
A co-defendant, Eileen O’Neill, was also found guilty of theft by deception and conspiracy for practicing at the clinic without a license. Eight other employees pleaded guilty before the trial to related crimes. Most testified against Gosnell. The doctor didn’t testify or call witnesses in his defense.
Gosnell showed little emotion as the verdict was being read. McMahon said he doesn’t regret not putting the doctor on the witness stand.
The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gosnell, CP-51-CR-0001667-2011, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (Philadelphia)
To contact the reporters on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at firstname.lastname@example.org; Christopher Yasiejko in Pennsylvania state court at email@example.com
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