PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (USA Today) -- A 72-year-old doctor whose abortion clinic was described by prosecutors as a "house of horrors" was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell was acquitted of killing a fourth baby during a late-term abortion in a dirty clinic that served mostly low-income women and teens, and went years without a state inspection.
He could now face the death penalty.
The jury returned the verdict after 10 days of deliberation. Earlier in the day, jurors told the court they were deadlocked on two unspecified counts but were ordered to keep trying.
Gosnell, who did not take the stand in his own defense, had been charged with killing four babies that were allegedly delivered alive at his clinic and third-degree murder for the 2009 death of abortion patient Karnamaya Mongar, who prosecutors said died from an drug overdose administered by Gosnell's untrained and unsupervised staff administered.
Gosnell also faced more than 250 counts of abortion-law violations, for allegedly performing third-trimester abortions and failing to counsel patients.
The nearly seven-week trial brought out grim descriptions of Gosnell's clinic, known as the Women's Medical Society, in west Philadelphia, that District Attorney Seth Williams called "a house of horrors."
Ashley Baldwin, a clinic worker, testified that she saw such fetuses moving, breathing and, once, "screeching.'' Another employee, Sherry West, described a 2-foot-long fetus that "didn't have eyes or a mouth, but it was like ... making this noise. ... It sounded like a little alien."
Lynda Williams, another ex-clinic worker, testified that, as ordered, she used surgical scissors to snip the spine of an aborted fetus she'd found in a toilet, its arm still moving. "I did it once, and I didn't do it again," she said. "...it gave me the creeps."
Witnesses described an institution where employees, many with personal or financial problems that left them few options, were paid meager wages off the books to perform tasks for which they were unlicensed and untrained, such as taking ultrasounds, administering anesthetics and other prescription drugs orally or intravenously, and assisting in abortions.
In an apparent attempt to standardize staffers' tasks, Gosnell had them administer uniform dosages of painkilling medication and other drugs, according to one who testified, Latosha Lewis. Some patients, given inappropriately high doses of labor-inducing drugs, abruptly aborted and expelled their fetuses in toilets or on floors.
Testimony from Lewis and others indicated that Gosnell performed many illegal third-trimester abortions but always noted in the patient file the same at-the-legal-limit gestation period - 24.5 weeks.
Gosnell's lawyer insisted during the trial there were no live births at the clinic, and blamed Mongar's death on unforeseen medical complications.