By Tony Hanson and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Jury selection is underway in the capital murder case against West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who allegedly routinely performed illegal, late-term abortions at his Women’s Medical Society on Lancaster avenue.
The first day of jury selection began with a panel of about 180 people, but most were quickly excused for a variety of factors, including opposition to the death penalty in this potential capital case, personal hardship caused by serving in a trial expected to last 6 to 8 weeks, and having a fixed opinion on the case. At the end of the first day, three female jurors had been selected.
The 72-year-old doctor has pleaded not guilty to a long list of charges which include eight counts of murder, one for an adult female who died during an abortion, and the alleged slaughter of seven late term babies born alive.
The prosecution is seeking the death penalty if Gosnell is convicted at trial. The grand jury called him “a butcher.”
In announcing the charges in early 2011, District Attorney Seth Williams alleged Gosnell had joked about murder.
“The grand jury heard evidence and testimony that he said the baby was so large that it could walk him to the bus stop,” Williams said.
When the indictment happened last year, Williams alleged the motive was profit.
“The cases that we are charging, homicide, they gave medicines to the women that induced labor, induced life births, so children were born and then killed.”
Nine others, including Gosnell’s wife, were charged in this case. Eight of them, including his wife, have already pleaded guilty. Gosnell and the only other remaining defendant, Eileen O’Neill, who was charged with being part of the corrupt organization, have pleaded not guilty.
There’s a gag order, so the attorneys could not comment.