Prosecutors seek death penalty for Gosnell

posted at 3:35 pm on March 2, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

If a state has to have a death penalty, then a serial killer of newborn infants has to be the gold standard for it, right?  Otherwise, what kind of murderer would ever get a death sentence?

Prosecutors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania announced today they will seek the death penalty for abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell, who faces charged related to killing a woman in a botched abortion and killing babies infanticides.

It’s not just Gosnell facing the ultimate penalty, either:

Assistant District Attorneys Joanne Pescatore and Christine Wechsler confirmed to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that they are looking at pursuing the death penalty related to Gosnell and former Gosnell employees Lynda Williams, Steven Massof and Adrienne Moton. The three are accusing of assisting Gosnell in the infanticide “abortions” where unborn children late in pregnancy were purposefully birth in order to kill them by using medical scissors to “snip” their spinal cords.

Gosnell himself will likely face a potential death penalty as the prosecutors notified his attorney, Jack McMahon, that they will seek death by lethal injection if a jury finds Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder in the counts he faces. Gosnell faces a third-degree murder charge related to the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar from a botched abortion Gosnell performed. Mongar died November 20, 2009, after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor.

The Inquirer reports that the decision to seek execution for Gosnell’s three co-defendants might be part of a strategy to tighten the proverbial noose around Gosnell’s neck, although prosecutors so far deny it … or mostly deny it:

The prosecutors, however, said they had agreed with the defense attorneys for the three to postpone a final decision on the death penalty for 60 days while both sides continue investigating the case.

Pescatore said the delay was not an indication that prosecutors were trying to negotiate a guilty plea in which they would testify against Gosnell.

“We didn’t know enough and they might want to tell us more things,” Pescatore said, referring to the 60-day extension.

Presumably, delaying in case the defendants tell the prosecutors “more things” suggests that those “things” might impact their decision on the penalty to seek.

Hot Air readers know that I oppose the death penalty in normal criminal proceedings, but this is the kind of case that can certainly cause one to question their opposition.  Gosnell murdered living babies fully born and separated from their mothers, and did so in a crude and cruel manner.  He kept trophies of his victims on shelves in his clinic.  If anyone doubts the cruelty and horrors visited upon these helpless infants and the women in the community, please be sure to read the grand jury report from start to finish, if you can stomach it. If the death penalty has any meaning at all, then Gosnell has to qualify for it.

Still, this may end up creating a cottage industry of Gosnell as a martyr, if previous death-penalty cases provide any track record at all.  We’ll be subject to numerous media pieces on Gosnell’s “service” to the community, a religious conversion or two, and probably even his artistic je ne sais quoi.  Free Kermit rallies will pop up all over Pennsylvania.  Inevitably, someone (or a whole bunch of someones) will play the race card, even though Gosnell made a fortune in his butchery and exploited the poor of his own community.

Give prosecutors credit: they know all of this, and probably better than anyone. After all, Mumia Abu Jamal got prosecuted in Philly, as did Ira Einhorn, who fled to France for decades and eventually avoided the death penalty.  They’re still determined to do what they believe is right for the victims and the community.

Update: The Anchoress prays that Gosnell takes the opportunity for redemption that this trial will give him, and believes living the rest of his natural life behind bars will at least allow him that opportunity:

If you remain unaware of what investigators (who were actually looking for evidence related to drug trafficking) found when they entered Gosnell’s abattoir-for-humansread the Grand Jury’s Report, if you can take it.

Nevertheless, I would defend this man’s right to live his life out in prison, rather than watch the state take his life. His life is not anyone else’s to take. For pro-lifers, this is a no-brainer.

And he may need many years and much time, in order to understand the enormity of what he has done, and allow his heart to be turned. He may need time for conversion and salvation.


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