PHILADELPHIA -- An abortion doctor was convicted Monday of first-degree murder and could face execution in the deaths of three babies who were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy, "house of horrors" clinic.
In a case that became a grisly flashpoint in the nation's abortion debate, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of an abortion patient. He was cleared in the death of a fourth baby, who prosecutors say let out a whimper before the doctor cut the spinal cord.
Gosnell, who portrayed himself as an advocate for poor and desperate women in an impoverished West Philadelphia neighbourhood, appeared hopeful before the verdict was read and calm afterward.
The jury reached its verdict on its 10th day of deliberations. It will return May 21 to hear evidence on whether Gosnell should get the death penalty.
Gosnell attorney Jack McMahon called it a "very difficult case" to defend and said there was "a little bit of feeling on the defence part of what salmon must feel swimming upstream."
"There's a lot of emotion. You have the baby factor, which is a big problem. The media has been overwhelmingly against him," he said. But noting Gosnell was cleared on some of the charges, McMahon said the jurors "obviously took their job seriously."
Prosecutors looked elated, but District Attorney Seth Williams declined comment until after the sentencing phase, citing a gag order.
Former clinic employees testified Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania's 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by "snipping" their spines, as he referred to it.
"Are you human?" prosecutor Ed Cameron snarled during closing arguments. "To med these women up and stick knives in the backs of babies?"
Gosnell was also convicted of infanticide, racketeering and more than 200 counts of violating Pennsylvania's abortion laws by performing third-term abortions or failing to counsel women 24 hours in advance.
-- The Associated Press