Kermit Gosnell Update: Lawyer says abortion doctor "disappointed and upset" after first-degree murder conviction

Dr. Kermit Gosnell during an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News at his attorney's office in Philadelphia, March 8, 2010.
AP Photo/Philadelphia Daily News, Yong Kim
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, inset, with location of his Philadelphia abortion clinic

(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder and could face execution in the deaths of three babies who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy clinic, in a case that became a flashpoint in the nation's debate over abortion.

Gosnell, 72, was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who had undergone an abortion. He was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of a fourth baby, ""Baby E,"" who prosecutors say let out a soft whimper before he snipped its neck.

The death was the only one of the four in which no eyewitness account was given during the trial.

Gosnell appeared hopeful before the verdict was read and calm afterward; jurors and lawyers on both sides were more emotional. The doctor 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.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty, but CBS Philly reported there may be an agreement in the works to eliminate that possibility. The jury will return May 21 to hear evidence before Gosnell is sentenced.  Prosecutors must prove that "aggravating factors" were present as the crimes were committed in order for Gosnell to be sentenced to death.

The defense will look to set forth "mitigating factors."

"I think the defense worked very hard," Gosnell attorney Jack McMahon said at a press conference after the trial,  CBSPhilly reported. "We had the chance to put out our issues and the jury has spoken and we respect that. It was a lot of hard work on both sides, and the jury worked hard too."

McMahon said he felt the defense put on an "aggressive" case. When asked by a reporter to speak to Gosnell's state of mind after the verdict, he said, "As any intelligent human being would be at this point in time, he's disappointed and he's upset."

Prosecution experts said one baby was nearly 30 weeks along when it was aborted, and it was so big that Gosnell allegedly joked it could "walk to the bus." A second fetus was said to be alive for some 20 minutes before a clinic worker snipped its neck. A third was born in a toilet and was moving before another clinic employee grabbed it and severed its spinal cord, according to testimony.

McMahon, argued that none of the fetuses was born alive and that any movements were posthumous twitching or spasms.

He also contended that the 2009 death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar of Woodbridge, Va., a Bhutanese immigrant who had been given repeated doses of Demerol and other powerful drugs to sedate her and induce labor, was caused by unforeseen complications.

Prosecutors described the clinic as a "house of horrors."

"We see this as a triumph of justice," said Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, a group that has taken a lead role in efforts to enact anti-abortion laws in state legislatures.

Four former clinic employees have pleaded guilty to murder and four more to other charges. They include Gosnell's wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped perform abortions.

Gosnell did not testify, and his lawyer called no witnesses in his defense. But McMahon argued that the doctor provided desperate young woman with "a solution to their problems," and he branded prosecutors "elitist" and "racist" for pursuing his client, who is black and whose patients were mostly poor minorities.

Gosnell still faces federal drug charges. Authorities said that he ranked third in the state for OxyContin prescriptions and that he left blank prescription pads at his office and let staff members make them out to cash-paying patients.

Complete coverage of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial on Crimesider