Jack McMahon, Kermit Gosnell's defense lawyer, will have a new job next week: trying to save his client's life.

Gosnell, found guilty Monday of three counts of first-degree murder in the abortion "house of horrors" case, will face the jury again in the death-penalty phase of his trial, set to begin next Tuesday.

The prosecution will present evidence for aggravating circumstances that call for Gosnell's execution.

Being convicted of more than one murder is an aggravating circumstance as defined by statute. Another is if a victim is under the age of 12.

Jules Epstein, associate law professor at the Widener University School of Law, said the prosecution would not have to argue those points again because they already had been proven in the trial record and verdict.

The prosecution may introduce victim-impact statements.

"In the sentencing hearing, evidence concerning the victim and the impact that the death of the victim has had on the family of the victim is admissible," Epstein said.

Then, "the ball is entirely in Jack's court," Epstein said.

McMahon can proceed largely as he sees fit because mitigating circumstances - evidence that argues against the death sentence - are not defined by statute.

"Given that this man is 72 years old and a doctor, I would expect Mr. McMahon to focus on the positive achievements this doctor has undoubtedly had in his lifetime," said Marc Bookman, director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a Philadelphia nonprofit that provides defense resources in death-penalty cases.

"The verdict itself - acquittals on some charges, compromises on some - suggests that [the jurors] have already seen some gray in the case rather than the black and white we often see in capital cases," said Bookman, who served as a public defender for 27 years.

Philadelphia lawyer Michael Giampietro, who has represented clients in death-penalty cases, said that Gosnell could turn to his teenage daughter for help.

"I think that would be a good place to start," Giampietro said, explaining that McMahon could argue that a life sentence would allow Gosnell to maintain a beneficial father-daughter relationship.

If she is willing to take the stand, that is "truly his best hope," Giampietro said.

During pretrial talks about a possible plea deal, Gosnell's wife, Pearl, and the teenage daughter met with Gosnell in a prisoner interview room attached to the courtroom.

Epstein said Gosnell's daughter could be helpful if McMahon can establish that Gosnell has been and would continue to be an important figure in her positive development.

It can, however, be a tricky path to follow.

"You don't want to look like you're guilt-tripping the jury, because that can boomerang on him," Epstein said.

One course not available to McMahon is any attempt to argue that a death-penalty verdict would be futile because of the exhaustive appeals process.

"Neither side should say to the jury, 'No matter what you decide, there will be loads of appeals,' " Epstein said.

Ultimately, the jurors must all agree on the penalty.

"You can only get death if all 12 vote for death," Epstein said.

Gosnell "only has to convince one of them not to kill him," Giampietro said.

Contact Robert Moran
at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.