Testimony in the third week of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial begins today after an emotional end to last week's hearing.
The 72-year-old Philadelphia abortionist is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing late-term babies who were born alive, and one count of third-degree murder for allegedly allowing his untrained employees to overmedicate a 41-year-old patient during a November 2009 late-term abortion.
Much of Thursday’s testimony centered on the third-degree murder charge. Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Collins finished up two days on the stand battling Gosnell’s defense lawyer over the fact that he changed the patient’s cause of death from accidental overdose to “homicide.”
Collins justified the change, saying he classified Karnamaya Mongar’s death an “accident” based on the evidence he had at the time. But following a grand jury investigation of Gosnell’s horrific and illegal practices, and his own tour of the shuttered facility, he changed his mind.
"From the get go, the circumstances (described) were inaccurate—totally inaccurate," Collins insisted. "That made it sound like everything was being done above board."
He said he never would have imagined Mongar's abortion occurred in a facility like Gosnell’s, which lacked qualified staff, administered expired drugs, and used outdated medical and rescue equipment.
"You would think you would have people trained in CPR and actual nurses, registered nurses, if you are doing abortions," Collins said.
At one point, in a moment of apparent frustration, Collins left the witness stand, tore down a large timeline the defense lawyer had prepared for the jury, grabbed a marker and started drawing out his own. The defense lawyer objected, and Collins later apologized.
The judge explained to the jury that emotions often spill over at the criminal courthouse.
The defense was trying to prove Thursday that no one on staff recalled Mongar receiving more than 100 milligrams of Demerol throughout the day, despite the higher autopsy findings. But prosecutors argue the hand-scrawled facility records of her care are unreliable.