Jury reaches verdict in Philadelphia abortion trial: reports

Reuters News
Posted: May 13, 2013 2:36 PM

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Philadelphia jury has reached a verdict in the murder trial of a doctor accused of killing babies and a patient during late-term abortions at his clinic, CNN and local media reported on Monday.

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.

If convicted, Gosnell may face the death penalty.

He also faces charges that he performed 24 abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy at his clinic, which served mostly low-income women in a largely black community. It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus only up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

Reuters was not able to confirm the reports that a verdict had been reached. The jury was in its 10th day of deliberations.

The jury earlier in the day said it was deadlocked on two counts, without specifying which ones. But Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Minehart ordered the seven-woman, five-man panel back to resume deliberations.

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 started deliberating on April 30.

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.

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, Sofina Mirza-Reid and John Wallace)