2011-03-10 / Local & State

Philly Abortion Doc May Face Death Sentence

MaryClaire Dale

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Prosecutors have notified a Philadelphia doctor charged with killing a patient and seven babies at his abortion clinic that they intend to pursue the death penalty against him.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 70, ran a filthy West Philadelphia medical practice that served as a pill mill by day and an abortion mill by night, a grand jury concluded in January after a two-year investigation.

The multiple deaths and tender age of the babies allegedly killed with scissors after being born alive are the aggravating circumstances that warrant the death penalty for Gosnell, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said Wednesday.

Defense lawyers have suggested that Gosnell, his wife and eight other defendants who worked at the neighborhood clinic treated poor women when no one else would.

Gosnell’s lawyer, Jack McMahon, questioned the death-penalty decision. Gosnell would die of old age before a death sentence would ever be carried out, he said.

“Dr. Gosnell is never going to get the death penalty,’’ McMahon said after a brief court hearing Wednesday. “You have a 70-year-old man, and it makes the case three times as long and as costly.’’

Gosnell is being held without bail on eight counts of murder, and was not brought to court for the formal arraignment.

The next hearing in the case is set for March 30.

Gosnell made millions over the years from the clinic, and together with his wife owns numerous properties, prosecutors say. A judge involved in a pending wrongful death lawsuit has frozen his assets to protect the plaintiffs, the family of a 41-yearold refugee who died of a drug overdose at the clinic in 2009.

According to the grand jury report, Gosnell and his employees – including his cosmetologist wife and two unlicensed medical school graduates _ helped perform illegal, later-term abortion at the clinic, while a teenager sometimes gave anesthesia and untrained workers provided post-surgical care.

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