The jurors deliberating Kermit Gosnell’s fate have been at work for a week now, sifting through hundreds of hours of testimony to determine whether the Philadelphia abortionist is guilty of murder.
Gosnell faces four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of infants prosecutors say survived late-term abortion procedures. He also faces one count of third-degree murder in the death of a patient who overdosed on anesthesia. Additional charges include racketeering, performing illegal abortions after 24 weeks, failing to observe the 24-hour waiting period, and endangering a child’s welfare for employing a 15-year-old in the procedure area.
The multiplicity of charges could explain why jurors are taking their time reviewing the evidence. This morning, jurors requested to review the testimony of former Gosnell assistant Adrienne Moton, who testified to “snipping” the necks of 10 babies during abortion procedures.
Late Tuesday, the jury asked to review testimony given by Moton’s coworker, Lynda Williams, who said she saw Gosnell use scissors to slice through the spinal chords of at least 30 babies after they were born. Prosecutors allege babies routinely emerged from the womb alive, despite the drugs Gosnell used to kill them. The abortionist told his employees his trick with the scissors was only to “ensure fetal demise,” but that all the babies were dead before they entered the world. But former employees testified to seeing babies move, take breaths, and even cry after being born.
During her testimony, Williams said Gosnell regularly modified ultrasound paperwork to hide the true age of the babies he killed, many of which were well past Pennsylvania’s 24-week abortion limit. In a nod to the “house of horrors” description prosecutors used for Gosnell’s abortion mill, Williams said patients could choose how much anesthesia to get during their procedures based on how much they could pay. Gosnell sometimes slapped the ones who writhed in pain so hard it left palm prints on their legs.
It took an assistant district attorney most of Wednesday to re-read Williams’ testimony. The jury returned to the courthouse this morning to continue deliberations.
Although media attention for the trial has been scant, more news outlets have joined the press pool waiting for a verdict. According to reports from J.D. Mullane, a columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times, reporters from Reuters, Fox News, and CBS News joined local media outlets to fill the front rows in the courtroom to hear the review of Williams’ testimony. Pro-life groups criticized the national media for not covering the trial, organizing a Twitter campaign last month to draw attention to the case.
After five weeks of testimony from prosecution witnesses, defense attorney Jack McMahon rested his case without calling any witnesses, including his client. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.