Abortion doctor won’t appeal; gets life, not death

Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:24 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

(MCT) PHILADELPHIA — Cordial, smiling — and acknowledging he will never get out of prison — West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell on Tuesday agreed to waive his appeal rights to escape the chance of death by lethal injection.

Gosnell, 72, dressed in a mustard-yellow prison jumpsuit, entered the courtroom shortly before 4 p.m. EDT, the same courtroom where a day earlier he was found guilty by a Common Pleas Court jury of murdering three babies born alive during illegal late-term abortions.

Gosnell did not speak about his decision except to answer the judge’s questions about understanding what he was doing.

“Are you satisfied with your attorney’s representation?” Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart asked. Gosnell turned to face defense attorney Jack McMahon, smiled broadly, and replied, “I am very satisfied with your representation.”

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron then called out asking if Gosnell were taking psychiatric medication or under treatment for mental illness, adding, “No offense.”

“No offense taken,” Gosnell replied. “No, I’m not.”

Minehart immediately sentenced Gosnell to two consecutive life prison terms without parole on two of the first-degree murder counts.

Gosnell returns to Minehart’s courtroom Wednesday morning for a formal sentencing hearing on the final first-degree murder charge and the remaining counts on which he was found guilty.

Prosecutors wanted to get the agreement on record immediately to lock in the deal with the mercurial Gosnell. But Cameron and fellow prosecutor Joanne Pescatore told the judge they also wanted to give Gosnell’s victims the chance to file an impact statement before Gosnell is moved into the state prison system forever.

On Wednesday, Gosnell will likely be sentenced to a third consecutive life sentence on the remaining murder count. The judge could also add years for Gosnell’s involuntary manslaughter conviction in the 2009 overdose death of abortion patient Karnamaya Mongar and on more than 200 of violations of the state Abortion Control Act.

It’s also likely the jury of seven women and five men will be called back to be formally thanked and dismissed by Minehart. After Monday’s verdict, Minehart had told the jury to return to the Criminal Justice Center next Tuesday to begin considering whether to sentence Gosnell to death or life in prison with no chance of parole.

Minehart told the lawyers that his gag order remains in effect until after Wednesday’s hearing.

McMahon, however, spoke briefly to reporters outside the courthouse, saying deals such as the one Gosnell agreed to are not unusual in capital cases.

McMahon said he did not know if Gosnell consulted with his wife, Pearl, 52, before deciding what to do.

On Feb. 28, three days before jury selection began, McMahon, Pearl Gosnell and their teenage daughter met with Kermit Gosnell, trying to persuade him to plead guilty. Gosnell rejected the offer, which would have included the life term, allowed him to serve the term in the federal prison system, and allowed Pearl Gosnell to keep their family home.

McMahon said Tuesday’s deal with Gosnell made no provision for preserving the Gosnell home for his wife and daughter.

McMahon said he did not find Gosnell’s affability in court unusual. He’s always been that way, McMahon said, adding that “sometimes an acknowledgment of fate brings a certain serenity.”

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©2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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