A Black Philadelphia doctor may receive the death penalty if convicted of killing a patient and seven babies at his abortion clinic.
According to the Associated Press, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 70, was notified by prosecutors that they plan to pursue the death penalty against him.
Gosnell was the head of a squalid West Philadelphia clinic that served as a prescription drug “pill mill” and abortion clinic. Gosnell and several employees were arrested in January and charged with several felonies, including the homicides.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams told CBS News that Gosnell, “induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh eighth months of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord.”
Pennsylvania law states that abortions are illegal after the sixth month of pregnancy.
Despite prosecutors’ push for the death penalty, Gonsell’s lawyer said his client would die of old age before the sentence would ever be carried out.
“Dr. Gosnell is never going to get the death penalty,” attorney Jack McMahon said after a brief court hearing, according to the AP. “You have a 70-year-old man, and it makes the case three times as long and as costly.”
Gosnell is currently being held without bail on eight counts of murder. One of his patients died from receiving lethal doses of painkillers and sedatives, while another died from a botched abortion. Gosnell’s wife is in jail on a $1 million bail for also performing late-term abortions and participating in the organization.
State inspectors found that Gosnell’s office was filthy, as cat litter was strewn throughout the establishment and fetal remains were stored in refrigerators right next to staff lunches.
Gosnell operated the clinic for more than 30 years and acquired millions of dollars from the procedures. Though state regulators received numerous complaints, his clinic hadn’t been inspected since 1993. His prescription drug writing prompted suspicions and authorities executed a raid in 2009.
Three of the clinic’s former employees also face the possibility of the death penalty. Assistant District Attorneys Christine Wechsler and Joanne Pescatore told The Philadelphia Inquirer that a final decision for the three would be made in the next 60 days.
Gosnell’s next hearing is scheduled for March 30.