Gosnell may face death penalty for late term abortion clinic

Opening statements in the murder trial began on Monday shortly after 10 a.m.

· March 18, 2013, 8:51 pm

Zoe Goldberg | DP

Monday morning, a jury began its examination of Kermit Gosnell and what a prosecutor called his “house of horrors” less than a mile from Penn’s campus.

Opening statements in the murder trial of Gosnell began on Monday shortly after 10 a.m. Gosnell — who is alleged to have operated a late-term abortion clinic at 3801 Lancaster Avenue — is charged with eight counts of murder, in addition to other counts.

Seven of these counts against Gosnell are for the first-degree murder of babies A through G listed in the Grand Jury Report. The eighth is for third-degree murder in the matter of Karnamaya Mongar, one of Gosnell’s patients who died from a drug overdose.

If convicted of the first-degree murder charges, Gosnell could face the death penalty.

In her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore made it clear that “this is not a case about abortion.” Rather, she said that this case was about the murder of the seven newborns and one woman which occurred at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society.

Pescatore said that Gosnell — whom she referred to as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and an “exploiter of women and children” — and his staff routinely killed the babies though a process they referred to as “snipping” — the snipping of the babies’ spinal cords post delivery.

Gosnell’s defense attorney, Jack McMahon, responded in his opening statement that the jury should still keep an open mind because the evidence will show that the infants Gosnell is accused of killing were never born alive. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that he added that the prosecution is trying to redefine medical complications as murder.

McMahon, who referred to the case as a “prosecutorial lynching,” also said that Mongar did not inform Gosnell or his staff of respiratory problems that made her more vulnerable to anesthesia, according to the Inquirer.

However, Gosnell is not the only one on trial for crimes associated with the Women’s Medical Society.

His co-defendant, Eileen O’Neill — who is a medical school graduate accused of having practiced medicine without a Pennsylvania license — is charged with counts of “Theft by Deception” and “Conspiracy – Corrupt Organizations.”

All eight others charged with crimes related to this case — including Gosnell’s wife, Pearl Gosnell — have already pleaded guilty.

Pescatore noted in her opening statement that in addition to expert witnesses and police investigators, some of those who were associated with Gosnell’s clinic would testify against him in coming weeks.

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