PHILADELPHIA -- An abortion doctor was convicted yesterday of first-degree murder and could face execution in the deaths of three babies who were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at what investigators called his "house of horrors" clinic.
In a case that became a flashpoint in the nation's abortion debate, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of an abortion patient. He was cleared in the death of a fourth baby, who prosecutors say let out a whimper before the doctor cut the spinal cord.
Gosnell, who portrayed himself as an advocate for poor and desperate women in a West Philadelphia neighborhood, appeared hopeful before the verdict was read and calm afterward.
The jury reached its verdict on its 10th day of deliberations. It will return May 21 to hear evidence on whether Gosnell should get the death penalty.
Gosnell attorney Jack McMahon called it a "very difficult case" to defend and said there was "a little bit of feeling on the defense part of what salmon must feel swimming upstream." But noting that Gosnell was cleared on some of the charges, McMahon said the jurors "obviously took their job seriously."
Prosecutors looked elated, but District Attorney Seth Williams said he would not comment until after the sentencing, citing a gag order.
Gosnell also was 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.
His co-defendant, ex-employee Eileen O'Neill, was convicted of taking part in a corrupt organization and illegally billing for services as if she were a licensed doctor.