Criminal Justice

Judge tosses some charges against abortion doc; defense calls no witnesses

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Jurors considering murder charges against a Philadelphia abortion doctor accused of killing viable fetuses will hear closing arguments on Monday.

The defense lawyer for accused doctor Kermit Gosnell called no witnesses in an abrupt end to the case Wednesday, report the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Philadelphia. The lawyer, Jack McMahon, obtained a partial victory for his client on Tuesday, however, when he succeeded in getting some of the first-degree murder charges dismissed.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart of Philadelphia granted defense motions for acquittal on murder charges related to three of the aborted fetuses, report the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times and the Associated Press. Gosnell still faces first-degree murder charges related to four other abortions and one charge of third-degree murder in connection with a patient’s death.

McMahon had asked the judge to acquit on all seven first-degree murder counts, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove the fetuses were born alive. He also claimed that the fetuses could not survive, even if they did show movement, because an abortion drug had been administered.

The prosecution presented its case over a five-week period. One of its witnesses was Ashley Baldwin, who was just 15 years old when she began interning at the abortion clinic. Baldwin testified that some of the aborted fetuses “looked just like regular babies” and at least five of them were moving and breathing. One of the aborted babies was “screeching,” she said.

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