Pennsylvania Dr. Kermit Gosnell, found guilty yesterday of three counts of first-degree murder in the abortion “house of horrors” case, will face the jury again next week in the death-penalty phase of his trial, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The prosecution will present evidence for aggravating circumstances that call for his execution. Being convicted of more than one murder is an aggravating circumstance as defined by statute. Another is if a victim is under the age of 12.
Defense attorney Jack McMahon can proceed largely as he sees fit because mitigating circumstances – evidence that argues against the death sentence – are not defined by statute. “Given that this man is 72 years old and a doctor, I would expect Mr. McMahon to focus on the positive achievements this doctor has undoubtedly had in his lifetime,” said Marc Bookman of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a Philadelphia nonprofit that provides defense resources in death-penalty cases. “The verdict itself – acquittals on some charges, compromises on some – suggests that [the jurors] have already seen some gray in the case rather than the black and white we often see in capital cases,” said Bookman, a public defender for 27 years.