Gosnell son gets probation in residence burglary

He went so far as to legally change his name to escape the international notoriety of his father, the West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

What Barron Alexander could not change was the pressure of striving to do well in college as the son of a man dubbed a "monster" in charge of a "house of horrors."

On Monday, a Philadelphia judge accepted the assessment of Alexander's lawyer - a mental breakdown - and freed Alexander to begin eight years of probation for a June 2014 burglary of a house two doors from his mother's in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia. A confrontation with one of the victims resulted in Alexander's being shot four times and left permanently disabled.

"I wish I could give you a good explanation," Alexander, 23, told Common Pleas Court Judge Rayford A. Means, adding that he did not need the money and already had copies of the items he stole - video games and a console.

Defense lawyer Mary T. Maran cited Alexander's lack of a criminal record and prompt guilty plea in the June 4, 2014, incident in the 3700 block of Brandywine Street.

Alexander was then a senior at Cheyney University, 30 credits shy of a bachelor's degree in business administration, Maran said.

"The pressures put upon him were overwhelming," Maran said. "I saw the pressure on the adults in that family, and then I think of those pressures on an 18-year-old. How does he stand up to those kinds of newspaper articles and ask himself, 'Who am I?' And how do people look at you?"

In May 2013, after a highly publicized two-month trial, Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for killing babies born alive during illegal late-term abortions at his clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave.

Gosnell, 74, is serving three consecutive life terms in the state prison at Huntingdon.

Means agreed that the crime was out of character for Alexander, and noted that Alexander has been in prison since his arrest. The judge also told him, "One of your victims already exacted punishment on you, shooting you four times."

Alexander said he was hospitalized a month and still has bullets in his body, including one lodged in his spine that left him unable to walk without a cane.

As part of his sentence, Means ordered Alexander to get further medical treatment for his wounds and complete college.

"I really don't believe you are a recidivist threat," Means added.

According to Assistant District Attorney Chance Lee, Alexander twice burglarized the neighboring house, leased by students from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, and a Drexel University graduate.

The second time, shortly before 7 a.m., Alexander woke one resident while attempting to steal a cellphone.

A confrontation ensued in which Alexander grabbed a bayonet that was inside the house and threatened the occupants, cutting one in the face.

Lee said a third roommate emerged with a gun and ordered Alexander to stop. The roommate, who had a license to carry a firearm, shot Alexander, who fled the house and collapsed outside.

Alexander pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated assault, theft, robbery, and a weapons count.

Alexander apologized to the students, adding: "I can't imagine being woken up clear out of my sleep."

jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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