Jury deadlocked on two counts in Philadelphia abortion trial

Reuters News
Posted: May 13, 2013 10:19 AM

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Philadelphia jury in its 10th day of deliberations said it was deadlocked on two counts in the murder trial of a doctor accused of killing babies and a patient during late-term abortions at a clinic that served low-income women.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, who ran the now-closed Women's Medical Society Clinic, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder. He is accused of delivering live babies during late-term abortions and then deliberately severing their spinal cords.

He also faces charges that he performed 24 abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus only up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

A handwritten note sent out by the jury at mid-morning on Monday said it was deadlocked on two counts but did not specify which ones.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Minehart urged the jurors to continue their efforts to reach a unanimous decision and sent them back for further deliberations.

"It's a difficult case," he told the seven-woman, five-man panel.

The case has focused a spotlight on the controversial practice of late-term abortions and drew national attention after anti-abortion advocates complained that they were being ignored because of media bias in favor of abortion rights.

The jury heard five weeks of often grisly testimony and has been deliberating since April 30.

If convicted, Gosnell may face the death penalty.

Gosnell's defense says there is no evidence the babies were alive after they were aborted.

Gosnell is also charged with murdering Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, who died from a drug overdose after going to him for an abortion, prosecutors said.

Testimony depicted a filthy clinic, serving mostly low-income women in a largely black community.

In addition to the murder charges, Gosnell faces charges of conspiracy and more than 200 counts of violating the state's informed consent law, which mandates a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion.

He has been in jail since his arrest in January 2011.

Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and are awaiting sentencing. They include Gosnell's wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped perform abortions.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sofina Mirza-Reid)