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Jury deliberations could be long in Gosnell case

PHILADELPHIA (BP) — After more than six hours of heated closing arguments in the murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, the jury now has begun deliberating on the charges against him.

“Those deliberations could be long,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer April 30, adding that the jury of seven women and five men “will have to parse their way through a verdict sheet reportedly more than 30 pages long.”

Among the charges the jury must address are four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of viable children who were killed after delivery and a count of third-degree murder in the death of a Virginia woman during a 2009 abortion.

Gosnell, who has pleaded not guilty, could receive the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

Other charges include conspiracy, theft, corruption of minors, solicitation and operating a corrupt organization.

In his closing argument lasting more than two hours Monday, defense attorney Jack McMahon accused prosecutors of “the most extraordinary hype and exaggeration in the history of the justice system,” The Inquirer reported.

“I’m telling you, never in my career have I seen the presumption of innocence trampled on and stomped on as in this case,” McMahon said, according to USA Today, adding that it was “the most incredible rush to judgment that I have ever seen in the history of jurisprudence.”

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron spent nearly three hours recapping the testimony of 54 witnesses, including clinic workers who saw Gosnell kill babies born alive during abortions by jabbing scissors into the backs of their necks and cutting their spinal cords.

McMahon, Gosnell’s defense attorney, led jurors through a series of photos of Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic that did not show the bloody “house of horrors” that the prosecution described.

McMahon, who called no witnesses during the eight-week trial, complained of a racist and elitist prosecution against the black doctor, USA Today said.

“We know why he was targeted,” McMahon told the jury whose members are almost evenly divided between blacks and whites. “If you don’t see it, you are living in some sort of la-la land.”

McMahon argued that the prosecution gave no evidence that any of the infants in Gosnell’s clinic were killed. Instead, he said they were dead before delivery because Gosnell had administered the drug Digoxin, which can cause an abortion. The attorney told the jury that a “not guilty” verdict in this case was not “innocent” but more properly “not proven,” USA Today reported.

According to CNN, McMahon painted Gosnell as a compassionate doctor who provided help to women in poverty who lacked access to health care. “These are desperate, young girls who were in trouble,” McMahon said of the mothers at the clinic. “But he provided these desperate young girls with relief.”

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, in reviewing the testimony of the prosecution’s 50-plus witnesses, recounted a recent experience with a veterinarian putting down the family dog. The vet first put the dog to sleep and then injected a lethal drug, The Inquirer said.

“My dog was treated better than he treated these babies and women, and that’s because he didn’t care,” Cameron said of Gosnell.

The third-degree murder charge is from the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died, Cameron said, during an abortion when Gosnell’s untrained staff administered an overdose of Demerol, a painkiller used as anesthesia in the clinic.

Responding to the racism charge, Cameron told the jury, “This case is not about us. It’s about Karnamaya Mongar and those four babies that are dead, and getting them justice,” CNN reported.

The judge in the case earlier dismissed three first-degree murder charges against Gosnell without explanation. The seven babies involved in the original first-degree murder charges were only some of hundreds at least six months into gestation who were killed outside the womb after induced delivery at Gosnell’s clinic, according to a 2011 grand jury report.

As Cameron read through key portions of testimony, four enlarged photos of babies and a photo of Mongar and her husband were placed on monitors throughout the courtroom.

At one point, according to CNN, Cameron turned to Gosnell, who is not a board-certified obstetrician or gynecologist, and asked, “Are you human?”

Day Gardner, president of the Black Pro-life Union, attended portions of the trial and described the testimony provided by prosecution witnesses as “extremely shocking and sickening.”

In an earlier interview with Baptist Press, Gardner said it was “painful to realize human beings could be so brutal and cruel to other human beings.”

“I think about the children who were born — so many children delivered into warm hands, breathing their first breath, seeing first light and moments later jabbed in the back of the head, brutally murdered,” Gardner said.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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