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Kermit Gosnell Gets Life in Prison, Accepts Deal to Avoid Death Penalty

After being convicted of three first-degree murder counts, abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to two life terms yesterday afternoon by Judge Jeffrey Minehart, with another hearing scheduled for today to deal with the remaining convictions for first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

To avoid the possibility of facing the death penalty, Gosnell agreed to give up the right to appeal his convictions. He also will not have the possibility of parole.

On Monday, the jury found the 72-year-old guilty of killing three babies who were delivered alive at his Philadelphia abortion clinic. He was scheduled to return to court on May 21 to determine whether he should get the death penalty or life behind bars, but he took the plea instead.

Though prosecutors had sought the death penalty, because of his advanced age it was deemed unlikely that he would live long enough to survive all the death penalty appeals, which can last decades.

Gosnell’s defense attorney, John “Jack” McMahon, said he was pleased with the outcome.

McMahon said he didn’t think the jury would have imposed the death sentence, but he said “you have to give up a bit to get something.”

McMahon said his client waived the right to appeal to spare his family and friends from the trauma of a penalty hearing, during which some could have been called to testify on the doctor’s behalf. Though he has been married three times and has six children, one of whom is a doctor, none of Gosnell’s family members came to his trial.

“No one wanted to put them through that,” McMahon said. “All this media attention has had an effect on his family … that is why they were not there at the trial.”

McMahon pointed out that Gosnell did not speak at the proceeding beyond answering yes or no to questions.

At the end of the trial, both the prosecutor and defense attorney asked the jurors to show “courage” after the seven-week trial that both transfixed and horrified the nation.

In addition to the four counts of first-degree murder in the infant deaths, Gosnell also faced one count of third-degree murder in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, 24 counts of performing abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week gestational age, 227 counts of performing abortions without giving the woman the mandated 24-hour waiting period, and other counts involving racketeering and operating a “corrupt organization.”

Eileen O’Neill, 56, an unlicensed doctor who worked in the family-practice section of Gosnell’s clinic, also faces counts of theft by deception and participating in a corrupt organization. O’Neill has been free on bail since her arrest.

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