PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The defense lawyer representing the wife of the West Philadelphia abortion doctor in a high-profile murder case says the Philadelphia district attorney’s office illegally searched her jail cell, without a warrant.

After Judge Benjamin Lerner tied up loose ends this morning during what began as a routine scheduling hearing on future motions to quash evidence or sever various defendants in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell (see related story), the lawyer representing Pearl Gosnell told the judge the search was “improper and illegal.”

Defense lawyer Mike Medway says the DA’s office should have gone through a judge to get a search warrant. Instead, he says, they “waved a subpoena and rousted her cell” at the Riverside Correctional Facility, on State Road in Northeast Philadelphia.

Medway says during the “cell toss,” as he called it, they were looking for letters they believed Mrs. Gosnell had exchanged with her husband, the main defendant facing charges that he killed seven fetuses that were born alive and viable.

Assistant district Aattorney Joanne Pescatore defended the action, telling the court, “We had information and we acted on it.”  She did offer specifics and would not comment outside the courtroom because Judge Lerner had just imposed a gag order on courtroom participants.

In open court, Pescatore said the practice was “routinely done,” to which Lerner responded, “I’m at a loss for words.”

He recalls that a judge ruled the practice improper years ago.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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