Judge tosses three murder counts against Kermit Gosnell
Defense attorneys get partial victory in abortion doctor's trial on the day they begin their case.
After hearing impassioned arguments from attorneys on both sides of the Kermit Gosnell capital-murder trial Tuesday, a Philadelphia judge threw out three of the seven first-degree murder charges Gosnell faced for allegedly killing fetuses born alive at his abortion clinic.
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart also tossed out all five counts against Gosnell accusing him of corpse abuse for storing the feet of aborted fetuses in plastic containers in his now closed Women's Medical Society clinic.
Also dismissed by Minehart was one count of infanticide - the intentional killing of an infant. All other counts against Gosnell, 72, will be decided by the jury, the judge ruled.
In addition to counts of first-degree murder for killing four babies allegedly born alive, those charges include the third-degree murder of a patient who died of a drug overdose following a botched 2009 abortion and multiple counts of preforming illegal, late-term abortions.
Minehart also dismissed six of the nine counts of theft by deception against Gosnell co-defendant Eileen O'Neill, whom prosecutors contend worked at the clinic as a doctor despite that having a medical license.
Minehart made his rulings following motion hearings that took place before the start of the defense attorneys starting their cases Tuesday afternoon.
Gosnell's attorney, Jack McMahon, argued that all seven counts regarding the fetuses should be dismissed. None were born alive, he said, all having been injected with death-causing drugs during the abortion process. Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron argued that there had been enough testimony from former clinic employees that the seven babies were born alive to let the jury decide.
The prosecution rested last week. Gosnell could be sentenced to death if he is convicted of the first-degree murders of the babies.