Gosnell abortion case advances
April 14, 2011, 2:47 am · Updated April 14, 2011, 12:00 am·
West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, charged with the death of seven babies and a woman, has his next court proceeding set for June 21.
Gosnell’s wife Pearl and six other colleagues — who are charged for crimes related to the deaths at Gosnell’s 3801 Lancaster Ave. clinic two blocks from campus — also have their court proceeding scheduled for the same day.
At the Court of Common Pleas yesterday, Judge Benjamin Lerner issued a gag order to prohibit all legal parties from speaking with media.
While the actual trial probably will not happen for another year according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the case initiated after Kermit Gosnell’s Jan. 19 arrest has moved on to the next stage, with prosecutors presenting the latest batch of evidence.
Michael Medway, Pearl Gosnell’s defense lawyer, objected to prosecutors’ false use of a subpoena to seize letters exchanged between Pearl and Kermit Gosnell.
The personal exchange, he said, took place sometime after April 4 in the prison cells at the Riverside Correctional Facility, where both Gosnells were being held.
“It’s a fiction to use a subpoena in place of a search warrant,” Medley said in court, adding that he may later request to have the personal materials destroyed.
Prosecutor Joanne Pescatore clarified in court that Pearl Gosnell’s cell was searched only after obtaining permission from the Council for Prison and that all materials found were turned over to defense attorneys.
“We had information, and we acted on it. We do this regularly to search cells,” she said.
Lerner, who was “at a loss for words,” ruled that even if the personal items extracted from Pearl and Kermit Gosnell may not be incriminating, the practice was improper.
“In the meantime, I don’t want this happening again,” he said.
Lerner also acknowledged “defendants’ greatly different level of resources” after defense lawyers claimed they lacked sufficient funds to print enough copies of court documents for their offices, including a 260-page grand jury report.
On April 4, Pearl Gosnell’s bail was lowered from $1 million to $50,000 on the condition that she be placed under house arrest. Kermit Gosnell is not eligible for bail.
None of the defendants or Kermit Gosnell’s defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, was present at the pre-trial conference.