Dropped Gosnell Murder Charge Covered 25-27 Week Baby Whose Leg “Jerked”

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 24, 2013   |   12:02PM   |   Philadelphia, PA

The judge in the Kermit Gosnell murder trial today reinstated one murder charge for killing a newborn infant but another murder charge — for Baby F – -was dropped.

According to the grand jury report and testimony in the trial of the abortion practitioner,“Baby F” jerked her leg before her spinal cord was severed by Gosnell.

In the grand jury report, Gosnell abortion clinic worker Steven Massoff, an unlicensed medical school graduate, testified that he assisted Gosnell with the abortion of Baby F when he saw the baby’s leg “jerk and move.” The report estimates the age of Baby F to have been between 25 and 27 weeks.

Why is the judge dropping some of the murder charges in the Gosnell trial? The grand jury report sheds some light on how the prosecution was not able to obtain enough evidence for a conviction, in part because Gosnell and his abortion clinic staffers destroyed it.

“We believe, given the manner in which Gosnell operated, that he killed the vast majority of babies that he aborted after 24 weeks,” the report says. “We cannot, however, recommend murder charges for all of these cases. In order to constitute murder, the act must involve a baby who was born alive. Because files were falsified or removed from the facility and possibly destroyed, we cannot substantiate all of the individual cases in which charges might otherwise have resulted.”

Still, the grand jury report recommended murder charges:

We recommend murder charges against Kermit Gosnell and Steven Massof for the killing of “Baby F.” Massof was an unlicensed medical school graduate whom Gosnell employed from 2003 to 2008 to perform abortions. He testified that he was assisting Gosnell with an abortion when he saw the baby’s leg “jerk and move.” The neonatology expert testified about the significance of movement in determining gestational age, and explained that the muscle tone and neurological development for a baby to pull back a limb, is “definitely in the bigger preemies like above, you know, 25, 26, 27 weekers.” After he observed this movement, Massof saw Gosnell sever the baby’s spine with scissors. We believe that the evidence supports charges of murder and conspiracy against Kermit Gosnell and Steven Massof.

Gosnell faces eight total murder counts — one for killing a woman in a botched abortion and seven for killing babies in abortion-infanticides that involved live-birth abortions and snipping their necks after birth. The judge received heavy criticism yesterday for dropping three of the murder charges

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. He still faces the other charges the prosecution has brought and the murder trial will continue on them.

One of the three charges the judge dropped includes a 28-week unborn baby who was killed in an abortion-infanticide and eventually discovered in a freezer at Gosnell’s clinic. Another involved “Baby B,” about whom a Gosnell staffer testified was a newborn child who survived a failed abortion and was still breathing into a shoe box.



The third murder charge thrown out was for “Baby G,” who was the subject of testimony of a former Gosnell staff who, in the grand jury report, said he saw alive. Steven Massoff said he saw exhibit “a respiratory excursion,” meaning a breath.

The reinstated charge involves Baby C — about whom a Gosnell staffer testified was a newborn child who survived a failed abortion and was still breathing into a shoe box.