Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Three murder charges against Pa. abortion doctor tossed

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania judge threw out three of seven murder charges Tuesday against a Philadelphia doctor charged with killing viable fetuses while performing abortions.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart of the Court of Common Pleas granted motions for acquittal on the charges against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who ran the Women's Medical Center, a West Philadelphia abortion clinic.

Minehart also granted a motion for acquittal in five charges of abuse of a corpse against Gosnell, who, according to prosecutors, killed fetuses that were alive after they were aborted by plunging scissors into their necks. Gosnell, 72, was also acquitted on one charge of infanticide.

The judge gave no reason for his decision, which came on the fifth week of the trial and preceded the start of defense arguments, which had been scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon, but are now expected to start today.

The trial has become a cause celebre for some antiabortion activists, a few of whom were seated in the courtroom Tuesday. Before the judge announced his decision, an officer of the court instructed those present to remain silent.

Bryan Kemper, youth outreach director for Priests for Life, an antiabortion group, said he was "obviously frustrated" with the judge's decision. Kemper, who traveled from Ohio to attend the trial, said he was convinced that Gosnell had deliberately killed live fetuses.

"It makes no sense to me that he could snip the back of the neck of a baby that was not alive," Kemper said during a break in the hearing.

Gosnell still faces four charges of first-degree murder and one of third-degree murder in connection with the death of a patient at the Women's Medical Center. If found guilty on the remaining charges, he could face the death penalty.

Eight workers at Gosnell's clinic have pleaded guilty in the case, including three to third-degree murder.

Gosnell's lawyer, Jack McMahon, argued that none of the seven fetuses his client is accused of killing were alive when they were removed from their mothers because they had been given a drug that killed them in utero. Therefore, there was no validity to the charges of murder, infanticide or abuse of a corpse, he said.

"There is not one piece of real scientific evidence that any one was born alive," McMahon told the judge, who heard the acquittal motions without a jury present.

The defense motions to dismiss the various counts offered a preview of closing arguments, which could come within the next week.

If convicted, Dr. Kermit Gosnell faces the death penalty.

If convicted, Dr. Kermit Gosnell faces the death penalty.

Three murder charges against Pa. abortion doctor tossed 04/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.

  3. NFL rewards Tampa Bay's track record, preparation with another Super Bowl


    Tampa Bay got lucky on Tuesday.

    We are getting a Super Bowl. We are getting a Super Bowl that we weren't supposed to get. We're getting a Super Bowl that we once were told we wouldn't get.

    Then came good luck.

     Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer (left) and son Edward Glazer celebrate the Bucs win and their upcoming trip to San Diego and the Super Bowl.  

[Bill Serne | Times]
  4. Baker fundraiser all about "Seamless City"


    Rick Baker kicked off a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Morean Arts Center making light of his 40-minute announcement speech two weeks ago on the steps of City Hall.

    Rick Baker speaks at a fundraiser at the Morean Arts Center Tuesday
  5. How did Florida National Guard miss soldier's neo-Nazi leanings?


    Brandon Russell, a private first class assigned to Company C of the 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Pinellas Park, has been in the Florida National Guard since February, 2016.

    Brandon Russell, 21, of Tampa, is a Florida National Guardsman accused in a federal complaint of illegal possession of explosives. [From YouTube]