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Third life sentence for abortion provider who killed babies

Posted at 12:07 PM, May 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-15 18:02:07-04

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell was sentenced Wednesday to life with no parole in the death of one of three babies who died in his clinic.

He received the same sentence in the two other deaths Tuesday. Gosnell, 72, was convicted Monday on three consecutive counts of first-degree murder for killing babies by cutting their spinal cords with scissors.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he doubts there would be a doctor that would think three consecutive life sentences "is not a deterrent," but admitted that there might be criticism that Gosnell didn't get death.

"We have shown him mercy where he failed to show mercy," Williams told reporters Wednesday. Williams' office announced Tuesday that Gosnell agreed give up his right to appeal in exchange for avoiding a possible death sentence.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart, who rendered the decision, also sentenced Gosnell on Wednesday to 2½ to 5 years in the case of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died of an anesthetic overdose during an abortion at Gosnell's West Philadelphia clinic.

Before sentencing, Mongar family attorney, Bernie Smalley Sr., delivered a statement on behalf of her family.

"She was a mother, a wife and a grandmother," Smalley said. "They lost something that can never be returned."

"They will always mourn the loss."

Gosnell also was sentenced to 10 to 20 years each on two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. Those sentences will run concurrently. Additionally, he was sentenced to 10 to 20 years for running a corrupt organization.

When the judge asked if he had anything to say, Gosnell turned to his attorney Jack McMahon, smiled and said, "Not at this time."

Defense attorney McMahon, in an impassioned, 2½-hour closing argument, said said that none of the infants were killed. Rather, he said, they were already dead as a result of Gosnell administering the drug Digoxin, which can cause abortion.

After the Wednesday court appearance, McMahon said Gosnell did not believe his acts constituted homicide and said his clinic "was not a house of horrors"

"There was a lynching by the media prior to the trial," he said. "Dr. Gosnell performed over 16,000 abortions, helped many young women."

McMahon said Gosnell knows that "some of his methodology was wrong" and that it was "wrong to perform abortion past 24 weeks. In Pennsylvania, abortions past 24 weeks are illegal unless the health of the mother is at stake.

"He bent the rules but he's not a monster," McMahon said.

After the hearing, jurors spoke and they said it was tough to look at images of victims during the trial. David Misko said Gosnell is "more of a predator than a monster." He said the trial was overwhelming and "took an emotional toll."

Gosnell's co-defendant, Eileen O'Neill, 56, was found guilty of conspiracy to operate a corrupt organization and two counts of theft by deception for operating without a license to practice medicine. O'Neill, a medical school graduate, was not charged with performing illegal abortions. She did not plead guilty.

Eight people involved in Gosnell's clinic, called the Women's Medical Society, earlier pleaded guilty to various charges. Four of them pleaded guilty to murder.

A grand jury report from 2011 says the "people who ran this sham medical practice included no doctors other than Gosnell himself, and not even a single nurse," yet they still made diagnoses, performed procedures and administered drugs.

Gosnell also was accused of reusing unsanitary instruments; performing procedures in filthy rooms, including some in which litter boxes and animals allegedly were present at the time; and allowing unlicensed employees -- including a teenage high school student -- to perform operations and administer anesthesia.

The remains of aborted fetuses were stored in water jugs, pet food containers and a freezer at the clinic, the city's chief medical examiner Sam Gulino testified.

Former employee Kareema Cross said Gosnell regularly performed illegal late-term abortions that he routinely recorded as "24.5 weeks."

McMahon, who called no witnesses, accused prosecutors of "the most extraordinary hype and exaggeration in the history of the criminal justice system," even adding that they are "elitist" and "racist."

Gosnell has been accused by authorities of preying on low-income, minority women. McMahon argued that Gosnell offered access to health care for people who were poor and without health insurance.

The doctor was first charged in January 2011. The case has drawn national attention and sharp criticism from anti-abortion activists.

Click here to read more about the Gosnell case.