West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to a third consecutive life sentence Wednesday for delivering and then killing a baby.
Prosecutors said Gosnell joked the third-trimester baby was so big he could “walk to the bus.”
On Tuesday Gosnell had agreed to give up his right to appeals and accept two life sentences to avoid the death penalty.
“Kermit Gosnell will never kill another baby,” said District Attorney Seth Williams at a press conference after sentencing. “He will never again subject poor women to barbaric procedures performed in squalor, under less than Third World conditions, due solely to his greed.”
Jurors open up
Gosnell appeared much the same on the day of sentencing as he did on the first day of the trial in March: calm, collected, and joking with his attorney.
He declined to comment at the brief sentencing proceeding, but outside the courtroom, jurors opened up. Sarah Glinski said the graphic evidence she saw throughout the six weeks of testimony was draining.
“Seeing those photos and having to say to myself, ‘This did happen to those kids, there were children that died at the hands of this man,’ that was what was hard for me,” Glinski said. “To admit that that kind of evil exists in this world.”
Deliberations reportedly got heated before the jury announced on Monday morning it was hung on two counts.The issue: Whether the twitchings of the victim dubbed ‘Baby C” were indicative of life or not.
The jury reached an agreement just a few hours after declaring that they were hung, and convicted Gosnell of first-degree murder in the death of that baby and two others. They acquitted him in the death of one fetus, citing a lack of evidence.
“Most of us felt that the doctor, he probably started out good in helping the community, but eventually, we most of us felt it came down to a greed factor,” said juror Joe Carroll. “(The clinic) was just like a machine.”
Carroll said there was talk in the jury deliberation room about whether others should have been standing trial with Gosnell.
“A lot of the discussion was the mothers, that it should be their fault too, for such late-term babies,” Carroll said.
Williams said they have no evidence that Gosnell’s patients knew their procedures were illegal, and did not considered prosecuting them.
At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, a lawyer for the family of Karnamaya Mongar, the Bhutanese immigrant whose died of an overdose of pain killers and sedatives after a Gosnell abortion, thanked the judge and prosecutors. Bernard Smalley said Mongar’s family had “lost something that can never be returned,” but Gosnell’s involuntary manslaughter conviction in her death gave them a “renewed sense of justice”.
Sentences years in the making
Gosnell first made headlines more than two years ago, when a grand jury report detailed routine late-term abortions performed at his squalid clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave. The defense and prosecution have been under a gag order for more than two years, and are only now allowed to talk about the case.
Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore has worked on the case since the grand jury stage and said Wednesday one of the babies in the case will “live with me forever.”
“When they found him guilty of that first baby, I just was so elated,” Pescatore said. “They got it, they understood, they knew what he did was wrong. And it wasn’t about abortion, it was a murder.”
Gosnell’s attorney said his client waived his right to appeals to spare his family the ordeal of an even longer court fight, but still believes he did not commit murder.
“He believes that he never killed a live baby, that was our defense. We respect the jury’s verdict,” attorney Jack McMahon said, “(but) that doesn’t mean that’s the truth, and that doesn’t mean that’s what he believes.”
The case has become a national flashpoint for the abortion debate and prompted new abortion clinic regulations in Pennsylvania that went into effect last year. They now are held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and are inspected annually.
In addition to multiple counts of first-degree murder, Gosnell was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of Mongar.
He was also sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison for that count, and 30 to 60 years for lesser counts, including conspiracy.
The consecutive sentences mean Gosnell will spend the rest of his life in prison
Federal drug charges are still pending against Gosnell for allegedly running a pill mill out of his abortion clinic.
Gosnell’s co-defendant and eight other clinic workers who have already pleaded guilty to various crimes still await sentencing.