The jury in the murder trial of abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell decided to re-hear testimony today of a baby who was delivered alive after an abortion into a toilet and was seen struggling trying to live.
Gosnell is charged with four counts of first-degree murder for killing babies following delivery in an abortion process that involved “snipping” their necks and spinal cords. He also faces a third-degree murder charge related to the death of a woman, Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, from a botched legal abortion. Gosnell, who has been in jail since his January 2011 arrest.
The abortionist faces 258 counts total and other charges against him include one count of infanticide and one of racketeering, 24 counts of performing third-trimester abortions and 227 counts of failing to follow the 24-hour waiting period law before an abortion so women can consider its risks and alternatives.
The jury wanted to re-hear testimony from Adrienne Moton, a medical assistant who told the court in March that she snipped the spines of at least 10 babies during unorthodox abortions. And she said Dr. Kermit Gosnell and another employee did the same sipping technique.
Moton, the first employee to testify, sobbed as she recalled taking a cellphone photograph of one baby left in her work area. She thought he could have survived, given his size and pinkish color. She had measured him at nearly 30 weeks.
“The aunt felt it was just best for her (the mother’s) future,” Moton testified.
Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop, she said.
Jurors saw Moton’s photograph on a large screen in the courtroom, which took on a bizarre look Tuesday as she testified near a hospital bed with stirrups and other aging obstetric equipment. Denied the chance to bring jurors to the shuttered inner-city clinic, prosecutors are instead recreating a patient room in court.
Moton, 35, sobbed as she described her work at the clinic. Because of problems at home, she had moved in with Gosnell and his third wife during high school, and she went to work for him from 2005 to 2008. She earned about $10 an hour, off the books, to administer drugs, perform sonograms, help with abortions and dispose of fetal remains. Workers got $20 bonuses for second-term abortions on Saturdays, when a half-dozen were sometimes performed.
She once had to kill a baby delivered in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors, she said. Asked if she knew that was wrong, she said, “At first I didn’t.”
If sentenced for the convictions, Gosnell could face the death penalty following the convictions by the jury in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia.
Under Pennsylvania law, all 12 of the jurors must reach a unanimous verdict on any of the murder counts Gosnell faces for him to be convicted on any of them. Each of the elements of a charged crime must be proven to each juror beyond reasonable doubt for that juror to vote to convict on that count and one reluctant juror could lead to a mistrial on any of the first-degree murder charges.
Since prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty in the case, the jury will only be deciding whether Gosnell is guilty related to the charges. If convicted, a second jury will be impaneled to determine sentencing under the penalty phase of the trial. During this phase, the judge has already instructed jurors to only consider guilt or innocence.
Given the number of charges Gosnell faces, and the fact that Gosnell has a co-defendant the jury is considering for conviction as well, the jury make take a longer period of time to arrive at a verdict on each of the 250-plus charges.
Most of the focus in the murder trial of abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell is on the murder charges he faces for killing babies in abortion-infanticides and for killing a woman in a botched abortion.
But Gosnell faces more than 200 charges related to violating Pennsylvania state law that requires him to provide women with informed consent 24 hours prior to the abortion. Gosnell is charged with breaking that law by not giving women information about abortion risks and alternatives 24 hours prior to the abortion.
Eight other defendants who are former staffers of Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion clinic have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and are awaiting sentencing.
Previously, the judge in the case reinstated one of the murder charges and dropped another. Gosnell’s defense attorney asked the judge to drop three of the charges for killing the babies and the judge agreed with the contention there was not enough evidence to convict Gosnell on those charges. Another charge of infanticide was also dropped.
One of the dropped charges involved a 28-week-old baby Gosnell killed and whose remains were kept in an abortion clinic freezer.
Common pleas court Judge Jeffrey Minehart also dropped five counts of corpse abuse at the request of his defense attorney and did not explain his ruling dropping any of the charges.
The defense had argued that there were no live births at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Center abortion clinic and contends the babies died during abortions and their necks were snipped afterwards. But former Gosnell staffers testified they saw signs of life even after the abortion had been completed — saying the babies “jumped” and “screamed” and tried to escape.
Gosnell, whose squalid “house of horrors” abortion clinic has surprised even investigative officials, has had almost flippant attitude toward his macabre abortion practices shocked the nation.
“The Gosnell case is a watershed moment for the issue of abortion,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. “The discovery of his horrific practices helped shed light on an abortion industry that has run amok without oversight or accountability for decades, and has prompted significant changes in abortion laws and attitudes toward enforcement in several states.”
Previously, Gosnell’s wife Pearl pleaded guilty to assisting her husband at his Philadelphia abortion center where he killed a woman in a botched abortion and has killed hundreds of babies in abortion-infanticides. Pearl Gosnell was considering a plea deal similar to the one several of Gosnell’s former abortion center employees have made where they have pleaded guilty to receive a lesser sentence in exchange for testifying against Gosnell.
Pearl also worked at the abortion center Gosnell ran that had him kill and injure women in failed abortions and kill perhaps hundreds of babies in grisly infanticides by birthing them and “snipping” their spinal cords. She worked at the Women’s Medical Society abortion business her husband ran as a full-time medical assistant from 1982 until she married Kermit Gosnell in 1990, when she switched to only working on Sundays.
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At that time, the abortion business was officially closed but would do its latest-term abortions possible. The grand jury report indicates Pearl Gosnell testified that she alone helped Kermit do abortions on Sundays when she would “help do the instruments” in the operating room despite no medical training.
The murder charges also came in connection with the botched abortion death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died at Gosnell’s abortion clinic after a failed abortion. Mongar died November 20, 2009, after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor.
Mongar’s family filed a lawsuit against Gosnell’s abortion business seeking damages. Gosnell and several staffers at his abortion center, including Pearl, were arrested in January after a grand jury indicted them on multiple charges after officials raided his abortion business following a woman’s death and discovered a “shop of horrors” filled with bags of bodies and body parts of deceased unborn children and babies killed in infanticides.
Meanwhile, women have spoken out about their treatment and one woman says she was drugged and tied up and forced to have an abortion. Authorities searching the facility found bags and bottles holding aborted babies scattered around the building, jars containing babies’ severed feet lining a shelf, as well as filthy, unsanitary furniture and equipment.
Gosnell’s abortion center was inspected only after a federal drug raid in 2010. It was the first time the facility had been inspected in 17 years because state officials ignored complaints and failed to visit Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society for years.
The abortion industry has been forced to suspend two abortion businesses that employed embattled abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell, who has been the subject of national controversy over his abortion business in Philadelphia.