D.A.: ‘Kermit Gosnell is a monster’

Posted: May 16, 2013

Enigmatic as ever, West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell left court for a life in prison this morning without explaining what happened during the 31-years he operated an abortion clinic dubbed the "house or horrors."

"Is there anything you wish to say?" asked Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart before imposing three consecutive life prison terms plus 2-1/2 to 5 years.

"Not at this time," replied Gosnell.

Gosnell, 72, thanked the judge for his nine-week trial and turned to defense attorney Jack McMahon and said, "Good job."

McMahon shook Gosnell's hand and slapped him loudly on the back. And then he was gone, escorted through a side door to the elevators and prison holding cells under the city's Criminal Justice Center.

In his first news conference on the case since a gag order was imposed two years ago, District Attorney Seth Williams called the Gosnell case "arguably the most gruesome" he had ever seen.

Flanked by prosecutors Joanne Pescatore and Edward Cameron, and police and detectives who investigated the case, Williams told reporters: "I will not mince words, and this is not mere hyperbole, Kermit Gosnell at some point became a monster. Any doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who could otherwise survive with proper medical attention, is a murderer and a monster."

Williams said Gosnell "knowingly and systematically mistreated female patients for years, which ultimately resulted in the tragic death of Karnamaya Mongar."

Mongar was an abortion patient who died in 2009 after being administered too much Demerol by Gosnell's untrained staff.

Pescatore, who was assigned to the case since a state-federal drug raid in 2010 revealed what was going on inside Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic, told reporters that "I felt honored to try this case."

"It was beyond belief that something like this could happen in a city such as this," Pescatore said."

Outside the courthouse, McMahon continued to defend his client, telling reporters that "This was presented in the beginning as a house of horrors, a hideous place. That's just not true."

McMahon said never in his career has he seen "such a trampling of justice."

"There wasn't one single person anywhere, in the media, anywhere that ever gave him any type of second chance in this case. . .Nobody had the facts, everybody made their conclusions based on what they read in the papers or what the grand jury report said. . . .. The lynching by the media prior to the trial was definitely intense," he said.

McMahon said he respects the jury's verdict but "just because we respect it doesn't mean that that's the truth."

He said Gosnell is "far from a monster" and that his client "believes what he did was not homicide."

McMahon said said Gosnell chose life in prison because of his children. "He (Gosnell) did not want to subject them to any more negativity."

Several of the Gosnell jurors spoke with the media after the sentencing.

"He's the worst example of an abortion doctor in the world, obviously," said jury foreman David Misko.

Juror Joseph Carroll said the prosecution "did a good job" and that Gosnell deserved life in pruson.

After two years of publicity since he was charged with killing infants born live during illegal late-term abortions, and a long trial, Gosnell's case seemed to evaporate.

On Monday, the jury of seven women and five men found him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of three infants, a count of involuntary manslaughter for the 2009 overdose death of abortion patient Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, and more than 200 counts for violating the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act.

The jury was to have met again on Tuesday to begin hearing testimony to decide whether to sentence Gosnell to death by lethal injection or life in prison.

But on Tuesday afternoon, Gosnell took the issue away from the jury, striking a deal with city prosecutors in which he agreed to waive his appeal rights to escape a possible death sentence.

Today was basically a 15-minute long formality and Minehart said nothing but the words needed to impose the sentence.

The only victim-impact testimony came from Philadelphia lawyer Bernard W. Smalley Sr., who is representing the Mongar family in a civil lawsuit against Gosnell and the City of Philadelphia.

Smalley said the family was devastated by Mongar's death just four months after she and her family emigrated to the United States after 20 years living in huts in a Nepal resettlement camp for refugees of the Asian nation of Bhutan.

Though the Mongar family was not in court, Smalley said they wanted to thank the prosecutors, judge and jury "for their patience. For what they saw was a justice system that worked for them and they are thankful for that."

Though Gosnell still faces a federal trial for allegedly trafficking in prescriptions for dangerous narcotics at his Women's Medical Society clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave., that too may be near an end.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron told Minehart that McMahon and federal prosecutors were negotiating a possible guilty plea in that case as well.


Staff writers Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman and John P. Martin also contributed to this article.

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

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