PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Prosecutors and defense lawyers met in a Philadelphia courtroom today to determine if the death penalty will be an option in the case of Kermit Gosnell, the West Philadelphia abortion doctor charged with eight murders in his clinic.

Prosecutors were on deadline to disclose whether pursuing the death penalty was an option.  The eight murder counts cite the deaths of seven newborns and one patient who was getting an abortion (see related story).

Defense lawyer Jack McMahon says that given the defendant’s age — Gosnell turned 70 last month — and the fact that no one has been executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 1999, it was a waste of resources from a practical standpoint to pursue capital punishment in this case.

McMahon disclosed for the first time an outline of Gosnell’s defense, contesting large portions of the grand jury’s gruesome report.  McMahon indicated he will challenge the presentment, saying, “Gosnell did not execute viable babies after the legal 24-week period.”

Prosecutors say the newborns were viable babies who would have survived given proper medical treatment.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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