Philly abortion doctor Gosnell faces death penalty for three counts of 1st-degree murder [updated]
Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell could face the death penalty after his conviction on three counts of first-degree murder for babies delivered alive and then killed in his former West Philadelphia clinic.
Gosnell was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and most, but not all, of the hundreds of charges related to providing third-trimester abortions and violating mandatory 24-hour waiting periods.
Gosnell was acquitted of one count of first-degree murder in the case of the aborted fetus, dubbed "Baby E" in court documents.
Defense attorney Jack McMahon said his client had a "fair trial" and applauded the jury for carefully considering each of more than 260 charges individually over 10 days of deliberations.
"This jury worked very, very, very hard and they should be commended," McMahon told reporters outside the courthouse Monday. "I respect what juries do, I don't always agree, but I respect everything that they did and they should be commended for their efforts."
Prosecutors had been pushing for a third-degree murder conviction in the death of 41-year old Karnamaya Mongar, who died of an overdose after an abortion by Gosnell. Instead, the jury decided on involuntary manslaughter.
"In a nutshell, it's a killing that's more accidental than reckless," Widener University law professor Jules Epstein said of the conviction.
Besides the murder and manslaughter charges, the jury convicted Gosnell on 21 of 24 counts of performing third-trimester abortions and 211 of 227 counts of ignoring the 24-hour counseling period mandatory in Pennsylvania before abortions are performed.
Defense attorney: 'The jury spoke'
Before the verdict, Gosnell shook hands with his lawyer and laughed. After the jury delivered the verdict, he was quiet, slightly shaking his head.
"As any intelligent human being would be he's disappointed and upset," said McMahon. "We aired out our position on this over a long trial, we had a fair trial, we got to put out our position and the jury spoke."
The same jury will hear sentencing arguments starting May 21. The death penalty is a possibility, but for a 72-year-old man, the near endless appeals in capital cases would essentially equate to a life sentence, with one main difference, said Epstein.
"Dr. Gosnell will either be on death row, which means 23 out of 24 hours a day in lockdown, or he'll be a life-sentenced prisoner, like many other people convicted of intentional murder, and be in regular jail," Epstein said.
Gosnell's co-defendent and former clinic worker Eileen O'Neill was found guilty on four lesser charges, including theft by deception. She will likely face minimal jail time or probation.
The six-week trial was marked with graphic photos and testimony, as well as occasional courtroom clashes between attorneys for the defense and prosecution.
Clinic workers testified babies were delivered into toilets and workers snipped the spinal cords of fetuses born alive.
Gosnell clinic may be anomaly
Amy Levine of Concern for Health Options: Information, Care and Education, a hotline and information service for women seeking reproductive care, including abortion, said Gosnell's former clinic appears to be an exception.
"We are not, at the moment, aware of any other clinics in operation, certainly not in the Philadelphia and the five surrounding counties that we work with, that are operating in condition anywhere near the conditions at which Gosnell was operating," she said.
But pro-life advocates believe Gosnell's case is representative of a larger problem.
"The tentacles of this type of abortion are all over the country. He is not an outlier," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, a political organization that seeks to advance pro-life policy.
"You just have to do a google search and you'll find in the last several months many other examples," she said.
Gosnell did not testify at the trial. And McMahon said he's not sure if he will take the stand during the penalty phase of the trial next week.
Prosecutors alleged Gosnell got rich by providing abortions in dangerous and unsanitary conditions to desperate, poor and minority women. The defense maintained Gosnell provided care to the needy in his neighborhood and that it was the media and prosecution sensationalized his case.
Judge Jeffrey Minehart commended jurors for their dedication after asking for lengthy passages of testimony from clinic workers to be reread to them.
Tom MacDonald and Taunya English contributed to this report.
Updated 7:46 AM 5/14/13