Jurors Question Murder in Gosnell Abortion Clinic Trial

Jury enters fifth day of deliberations on the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell

Jurors in the Dr. Kermit Gosnell murder trial started off their fifth day of deliberations with a question about varying murder charges.

The jury of 12 asked Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart to explain the differences between first and third-degree murder. They also asked for definition of the crimes malice, manslaughter and infanticide.

The jury has asked several questions related to the Gosnell capital murder case that's stretched on for seven weeks.

Gosnell, 72, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of four babies. Prosecutors allege Gosnell delivered the babies alive during late-term abortions and then killed them by snipping their spinal cords.

The former doctor is also charged with third-degree murder in the death of former patient Karnamaya Mongar. The 41-year-old died after being given a lethal dose of pain killers during a 2009 procedure.

Defense attorney Jack McMahon has said his client never delivered a baby alive during procedures at his West Philadelphia clinic, the Women's Medical Society. McMahon said Gosnell used the drug Digoxin to stop fetuses' hearts in utero before being delivered.

Seven women and five men are weighing a total of 268 charges against the former doctor. More than 200 of the charges are related to alleged abortion-law violations.

The jury was brought back into the third-floor courtroom at the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center to hear the charges again around 11 a.m. Monday. The explanations lasted 25 minutes. The courtroom doors were locked as Judge Minehart defined each charge.

Jurors are also deliberating theft by deception charges against Gosnell's co-defendant and former employee Eileen O'Neill. Prosecutors say O'Neill pretended to be a doctor and billed for her services even though she was not a licensed physician.


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The jury has asked a handful of questions over the course of deliberations. Former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham says the fact the jury has asked many questions suggests they are taking their time with the cases.

"I think the jury is trying to be very thoughtful and very careful, not rushing to judgment," Abraham said.

The former DA says the difference between first and third-degree murder hinges on pre-mediation.

"First-degree murder is a murder committed with willful, deliberate and pre-meditated state with an intent to kill. That's the grand ingredient of murder -- malice plus an intent to kill specifically," she said.

"Third-degree murder is a death which results with malice, but there's no specific intent to kill, but nevertheless, the person dies."

If found guilty of first-degree murder, Gosnell faces the death penalty.

Gosnell's wife Pearl and other former employees, all who have pled guilty to various crimes, were set to be sentenced Monday, but those proceedings were continued.

By 4 p.m., the jury had finished deliberating for the day. The sixth day of deliberations will continue at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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