Gosnell jurors say they are "drained"

Posted: May 12, 2013

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury returns Monday to continue deliberating in the murder trial of West Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

The jury of seven women and five men, which has deliberated for a total of about 51 hours since April 30, broke for the weekend at 1:30 p.m. Friday after telling court officials they were "drained."

The jurors seemed to spend much of the week tackling the murder charges against Gosnell, 72, who operated the Women's Medical Society clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave. from 1979 to 2010 when it was closed after a federal-state drug raid.

Gosnell is charged with four counts of first-degree murder: babies allegedly born alive during illegal late-term abortions and killed by Gosnell or staff.

But deciding the verdicts on those counts may be more difficult than it seems because the jury must first decide if the babies were born alive.

Expert testimony based on autopsies was inconclusive so the jurors must decide if it believes ex-Gosnell employees who pleaded guilty in hopes of leniency at sentencing.

Then, on Thursday, Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart told the jurors they had to reach separate verdicts for each of 227 counts charging Gosnell with violating the state's 24-hour waiting period before a woman has an abortion.

Based on the jury's question to the judge, it seemed some jurors thought a lawyers' stipulation about the origin of medical records for the 227 abortions meant they only had to render one mass verdict.

Gosnell also faces a count of third-degree murder in the 2009 death of an abortion patient allegedly overdosed on Demerol by Gosnell's untrained staff.

Codefendant Eileen O'Neill, 56, of Phoenixville, is charged with working as an unlicensed doctor in Gosnell's family practice.

As the jury worked Friday, a convoy of television and cable satellite trucks lined the intersection of 13th and Filbert Street as reporters maintained their wait for a verdict.

The media were supplemented during the lunch break by a small contingent of bullhorn-equipped anti-abortion demonstrators from Maryland and the Philadelphia area.

The protesters kept up a pro-Christian anti-abortion harangue while handing out literature and posters from Repent America and the California-based Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Considering that the Gosnell trial just ended its eighth week, there have been few such protests.

The last was March 13, the last day of jury selection, when a truck festooned with anti-abortion posters and religious quotations from Colorado Coalition for Life circled the courthouse for hours.


Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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