Gosnell Won't Appeal Conviction, Is Spared Death

Sentencing deal struck a day after the former abortion doctor found guilty of first-degree murder

Former Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has been spared the death sentence by choosing to forego an appeal.

In exchange for giving up that appeal, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office agreed to two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Gosnell was found guilty of first-degree murder on Monday in the deaths of three babies. He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of former patient Karnamaya Mongar and 229 counts of violating Pennsylvania abortion laws.

The 72-year-old owner of the Women’s Medical Society, the West Philadelphia clinic where the crimes happened, was set to be sentenced next Tuesday.

"Like any deal there's a give and take on any side," Gosnell's attorney Jack McMahon said.

McMahon believes Gosnell chose the deal to avoid having his family part of penalty proceedings.

"They've been conspicuously absent and that has been intentional because of the media focus," McMahon said. "Bringing them all forward for a penalty phase troubled him and therefor I think this was a deal that worked out for both sides."

Gosnell has six children including a son in college and another child in high school.

The deal is the latest twist in the case that's carried on for more than two months, capturing national media attention.

Gosnell's clinic was dubbed a “house of horrors” by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams in a 2011 grand jury report after investigators uncovered macabre and deplorable conditions inside.

Prosecutors say Gosnell delivered four babies alive during abortion procedures and then killed them by snipping their spinal cords with scissors. He was acquitted in the death of the fourth baby.

Mongar, 41, died after she was given a lethal dose of pain killers and anesthesia during a 2009 abortion procedure at the clinic. Gosnell was charged with third-degree murder in her death, but the jury delivered a lesser verdict of involuntary manslaughter.

Gosnell was also accused of regularly violating Pennsylvania's abortion laws — including performing late-term abortions. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to perform abortions on fetuses after they reach 24 weeks.

McMahon said before the sentencing deal that his client's bid for acquittal was a battle.

"The media has been overwhelmingly against him," McMahon said. "But I think the jury listened to the evidence ... and they found what they found."

Prosecutors Joanne Pescatore and Ed Cameron were pursuing the death penalty in the case because of the multiple murders. They also felt Gosnell had taken advantage of his victims.

At 72 years old, Gosnell may have died in prison appealing a death sentence before even being able to be executed.

The deal between Gosnell and the Commonwealth only pertains to two of the babies he was convicted of murdering.

He will be sentenced at hearing 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the death of the third baby, in Mongar's death and hundreds of abortion-law violations.

The results of Wednesday's proceedings could add dozens, if not hundreds of years, to Gosnell's two consecutive life sentences.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is expected to speak about the case at a press conference Wednesday morning following the final sentencing.

After the criminal case is done, Gosnell will then prepare to be tried in federal court on allegations he was running an illegal narcotics operation out of his clinic. That trial is set to begin in September.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us