Death penalty sought for West Phila. abortion doctor
Three former Gosnell employees may also face death penalty
March 3, 2011, 4:14 am · Updated March 3, 2011, 12:00 am·
Former West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell may face the death penalty for charges of killing seven babies and one woman, prosecutors confirmed Wednesday.
At Gosnell’s formal arraignment, Philadelphia prosecutors stated that they will seek death by lethal injection pending evaluation of evidence for the abortions that took place at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society, located at 3801 Lancaster Avenue clinic — just one block north of Penn’s Patrol zone.
Gosnell was criminally charged in January after a 260-page Grand Jury report alleged that he used scissors to sever the spines of live, viable infants and other illicit means for illegal late-term abortions.
He is also charged with third-degree murder for the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 2009 patient who overdosed on anesthesia given by allegedly unlicensed staff.
“Starting in 1999, Penn Medicine provided reports to the authorities regarding patients of Dr. Gosnell who sought additional care in our hospitals, and we continue to monitor our reporting procedures,” said Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania spokeswoman Susan Phillips.
“We have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s office during the investigation and hope that the courts will act in the best interests of patients,” she added.
Prosecutors are also considering whether to seek the death penalty for three other former Gosnell employees — Lynda Williams, 42, Steven Massof, 48 and Adrienne Moton, 33 — according to Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore.
The decision to use the death penalty for the three workers, however, will be postponed by 60 days to give defendants sufficient time to prepare for a sentencing hearing.
“We didn’t know enough, and [the defendants] might want to tell us more things,” Pescatore said.
While Gosnell’s defense attorney Jack McMahon was not available for comment, Mary Maran — who represents Gosnell’s employee and wife, Pearl — said that “given the dimensions this case has taken on, McMahon is not surprised the Commonwealth gave a statement of intent to prosecute [under] the death penalty.”
Neither Gosnell nor the three seriously charged defendants were in court for the arraignment.
Last month, Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) fired six senior state employees and announced changes in the Department of Health and Department of State, condemning their oversight of Gosnell’s clinic as “despicable.”
On March 30, the abortion case will move from Municipal Court to the Court of Common Pleas, where Judge Benjamin Lerner will handle pre-trial motions.