Prosecutor Joanne Pescatore delivers fiery opening statements to the jury in the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell on Monday, March 18, 2013. Gosnell sits left, next to his attorney John McMahon. Also pictured: Eileen O'Neill, a former employee charged with the murder of a 41-year-old woman. MORE ON THIS STORY
Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s defense attorney and a city prosecutor went toe-to-toe in court this morning, shouting at each other over the interpretation of a toxicology report.
Before proceedings could even start for the day, Jack McMahon, Gosnell’s defense attorney, challenged the scientific basis of a post-mortem analysis of drugs in the system of Karnamaya Mongar.
Prosecutors allege the 41-year-old immigrant was given a lethal dosage of anesthesia and pain killers during a 2009 abortion at Gosnell’s abortion clinic, Women’s Medical Society.
Gosnell’s staff called 911 after Mongar became unresponsive. She was taken to a nearby hospital and died the next day, according to court documents.
Gosnell is charged with third-degree murder in Mongar's death. The 71-year-old former doctor also faces first-degree murder charges in the death of seven babies.
Dr. Timothy Rohrig, a toxicologist and director of Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center in Kansas, was set to testify first thing Tuesday regarding the amount of Demerol found in Mognar’s system following her death.
Prosecutors say Mongar was given 75 mg of Demerol during her visit as well as dosages of Promethazine and Diazepam. Untrained staffers administered the drugs, according to the prosecution.
McMahon argued it was unfair to extrapolate the amount of a drug was found in a person’s system following their death. He claimed the conclusions drawn have no scientific basis.
McMahon got into a heated debate with Judge Jeffrey Minehart over the last-minute challenge. Minutes later, just outside the third-floor courtroom, Prosecutor Joanne Pescatore got into an argument with McMahon. That fight ended in a shouting match.
Judge Minehart had Rohrig take the stand for questioning without the jury present. After hearing both side's arguments, Minehart ruled that the jury could hear Rohrig's testimony and the findings of the toxicology report.
Rohrig testified toxicology results show 710 micrograms-per-liter of Demerol in Mongar's system after her death. The expert says that level means the woman was given more than the 150 mg of Demerol in the span before her death.
On cross-examination, McMahon questioned the post-mortem analysis. The defense attorney showed medical journals that claimed the method used by Rohrig to determine the amount of drugs in Mongar isn't definitive.
McMahon also argued the blood samples used were from Mongar's heart. He said samples taken from the femoral artery are a much better indicator of drug concentration.
Speaking to NBC10 in early 2011, Mongar's daughter Yashoda Gurung said she wants justice for her mother. Reliving the night of her mother's abortion, Gurung says questions to clinic staffers went unanswered as paramedics arrived at the facility.
“She said, ‘Your mom is good, don’t worry about that,’” she was told of an ambulance pulling up outside. Gurung and her family is suing Gosnell over her mother's death.
The trial stretches into it's seventh day Wednesday. Doctors from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are expected to testify.