Defense rests in Gosnell murder trial, closing arguments scheduled for Monday

By Dave Andrusko

Kermit Gosnell’s defense attorney Jack McMahon

Abruptly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, the defense today rested in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, ending a day that began with the judge tacitly admitting he may have confused two of the babies Gosnell allegedly murdered.

Jack McMahon, Gosnell’s flamboyant lawyer, joked with reporters earlier on Wednesday that “all things will be revealed,” after “sources familiar with the trial say Gosnell will not testify and McMahon will present no other witnesses.”

Indeed, the evidentiary phase of the trial, now in its sixth week, is over. The jury of seven women and five men will hear closing arguments on Monday.

As is his habit, McMahon played coy with reporters after the case ended for the day. Reporting for, Elizabeth Harrington wrote

“McMahon said ‘we saw a defense’ over the last six weeks of the trial, during cross-examination of witnesses brought by the prosecution.

“’We did not call any witnesses in this case and we’re going to close on Monday,’  he said.

“’There’s a gag order so I can’t really give my opinion as to it, the only thing I can say is we chose not to present anything and did so for strategic reasons,’ McMahon said.”

On Tuesday Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart dropped multiple charges against Gosnell—including three first-degree murder charges (“Baby B,”  “Baby C,” and “Baby G”) and five charges of “abuse of a corpse,” a reference to fetal limbs that Gosnell kept in jars. Minehart did so without explanation.

Gosnell is still on trial on four counts of first degree murder for the other babies allegedly aborted alive, and one of count of third degree murder in the 2009 death of Karnamaya  Mongar who died, according to prosecutors, when Gosnell’s unqualified staff gave her an overdose of Demerol and other pain killers.

However earlier on Wednesday, Minehart changed which babies Gosnell could be charged with murdering. Instead of acquitting Gosnell in the case of “Baby C,” he granted Gosnell an acquittal in the death of “Baby F.” (Minehart cited “clerical error.”)

That may be significant because in his testimony to the Grand Jury, Steven Masoff, an unlicensed medical school graduate, said he assisted Gosnell with the abortion of “Baby F.” Masoff said he saw the baby’s leg “jerk and move.”

And Masoff knew a great deal about what took place at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society. According to the Associated Press, when he testified at the murder trial,

“Masoff estimated that he saw about 100 babies born alive and then ‘snipped’ with surgical scissors in the back of the neck, to ensure their ‘demise.’

“Gosnell, who had another clinic in Delaware, typically came in only at night for the final part of the procedure, leaving Masoff to monitor the pain-racked or highly sedated women.

“’I felt like a firemen in hell. I couldn’t put out all the fires,’ he testified.”

The prosecution laid its case out through the testimony of a number of former Gosnell employees who said “that Gosnell relied on untrained, unlicensed staff to sedate and monitor women as they waited for abortions,” according to the AP’s MaryClaire Dale “Three workers have pleaded guilty to third-degree murder charges, admitting they helped medicate the adult victim or ‘snipped’ babies’ necks after they were born alive to make sure they died.”

McMahon’s strategy is not complicated, and Dale does a good job laying it out.

The babies weren’t alive; the movements or breaths the employees testified to seeing “were actually involuntary spasms during the death process. He argued that each of the babies had purportedly moved, breathed or whined just once,” Dale reported. Yesterday, McMahon summarized the core of his defense: “These are not the movements of a live child.”

To McMahon’s contention that “There is not one piece–not one–of objective, scientific evidence that anyone was born alive,” Dale noted that one employee “has pleaded guilty to killing a baby that was alive for about 20 minutes.”

Gosnell is on trial not because he allegedly slit the babies’ spinal cords but because prosecutors (and witnesses) contend he aborted babies well past the 24-week mark allowed in Pennsylvania. McMahon’s rebuttal here is that dating how old the babies were is imprecise “and that the margin of error is at least two weeks on either side,” Dale reported.

But neonatologists estimated that some of the babies were nearly 30 weeks.

With respect to the death of Mrs. Mongar, McMahon maintained that third-degree murder requires malice, or “conscious disregard” for her particular life.

In a revealing comment, McMahon said, “She wasn’t treated any differently than any of the other thousands of other people who went through there.”


Please join those who are following me on Twitter at Please send your comments to