Could Kermit Gosnell be acquitted?

Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his lawyer, William Brennan, talks to DN reporter on Monday, March 8, 2010. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Will Kermit Gosnell, former operator of country’s most notorious abortion clinic, be acquitted?

On Tuesday, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart dismissed three of the seven first-degree murder counts against the West Philadelphia doctor, who performed abortions on poor women in his Lancaster Avenue clinic.

Minehart did not elaborate on why the charges were dismissed. If convicted of first-degree murder, the 72-year-old doctor could face the death penalty.

Gosnell is also charged with third-degree murder in the 2009 death of a Virginia woman, a Bhutan immigrant who spent 20 years in a Nepalese refugee camp only to die four months after arriving in the United States. Gosnell is charged that he allegedly administered too much Demerol during an abortion procedure.

On Wednesday, the defense rested without calling a single witness or asking the doctor to testify.

During the trial, now in its fifth week, Gosnell has adopted a calm, almost courtly demeanor, taking copious notes though rarely consulting with his noted defense attorney, Jack McMahon.

McMahon is a former prosecutor in the D.A.’s office, as is the judge and co-defendant Eileen O’Neill’s attorney, James Berardinelli. McMahon is well known for his fiery temper and Marine-like demeanor. O'Neill, an unlicensed doctor who worked at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic, also declined to testify.

Minehart dismissed the jury for the week. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Monday.


--Karen Heller