'House of horrors' abortion clinic worker testifies in capital murder trial
- Adrienne Moton, 35, testified that Dr Kermit Gosnell taught her the snapping method to kill fetuses
- She said in court one newborn baby boy was very large and appeared viable
- Gosnell joked the infant was so big he could have walked to the bus stop, she said
- Moton, who has no college education or medical training, was allowed to handle anesthesia and help in abortions
- Gosnell could face capital punishment in the deaths of one woman and seven babies
Confession: Adrienne Moton, 35, testified that Dr Kermitt Gosnell had taught her how to snip the necks of newborns during late-term abortions
medical assistant told a jury Tuesday that she snipped the spines of at
least 10 babies during unorthodox late-term abortions at a West
Moton's testimony as part of her guilty plea to third-degree murder,
came in the capital murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the clinic
owner, who is on trial in the deaths of a patient and seven babies.
accuse him of killing late-term, viable babies after they were
delivered alive, in violation of state abortion laws.
lawyer denies the murder charge and disputes that any babies were born
alive. He also challenges the gestational age of the aborted fetuses,
calling them inexact estimates.
the first employee to testify, sobbed as she recalled taking a cell
phone photograph of one baby left in her work area. She thought he could
have survived, given his size and pinkish color. She had measured him
at nearly 30 weeks.
‘The aunt felt it was just best for her [the mother's] future,’ Moton testified.
Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop, she said.
saw Moton's photograph of the baby on a large screen in the courtroom,
which took on a bizarre look Tuesday as she testified near a hospital
bed with stirrups and other aging obstetric equipment.
Denied the chance to bring jurors to the shuttered inner-city clinic, prosecutors are instead recreating a patient room in court.
Moton, 35, sobbed as she described her work at the clinic. She first met Gosnell through his niece, a school friend of hers, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Because of problems at home, she had moved in with Gosnell and his third wife during high school.
Later, the 35-year-old medical assistant testified that the abortion doctor helped her terminate two of her own pregnancies and she began volunteering at the clinic in January 2005 sterilizing instruments.
Abortionist: Dr. Kermit Gosnell could face capital punishment if convicted in the deaths of a patient and seven babies
'Charnal house': Officials say Gosnell's facility employed cheap, untrained staff, used outdated medicines and barbaric techniques to perform abortions on desperate, low-income women
Abortion menu: Court documents show Gosnell earned $1.8million a year performing late-term abortions with a price tag as high as $1625
Not before long, the woman with
no college education or medical training began administering anesthesia
under the tutelage of Gosnell, whom she called 'uncle,' and then assist
in abortions, including the doctor's method of 'snipping' the spinal
cords of fetuses.
‘I learned it from Dr. Gosnell,’ said Moton in response to a question from Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron. ‘I never asked why.’
‘Can you say how many you did?’ Cameron asked.
‘I could remember a good 10 times that I did it,’ Moton replied.
earned about $10 an hour, off the books, to administer drugs, perform
sonograms, help with abortions and dispose of fetal remains.
Workers got $20 bonuses for second-term abortions on Saturdays, when a half-dozen were sometimes performed.
Do-gooder: Defense lawyer Jack McMahon told jurors in opening statements that Gosnell, pictured left back in 2010, could have earned millions working for the wealthy, but chose to return to a poor inner city area
She once had to kill a baby
delivered in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors, she said. Asked
if she knew that was wrong, she said, ‘At first I didn't.’
are typically performed in utero. In Pennsylvania, abortions cannot
legally be performed after the 24th week of pregnancy.
Moton has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, which carries a 20- to 40-year term, as well as conspiracy and other charges.
has been in prison since early 2011, when Philadelphia prosecutors
released the harrowing grand jury report on Gosnell's Women's Medical
Center and arrested the doctor, wife Pearl and eight current or former
employees. Most of them are expected to testify.
and teens came from across the mid-Atlantic, often seeking late-term
abortions, Moton said. She recalled one young woman from Puerto Rico who
did not speak English and appeared to be 27 weeks pregnant.
Mongar, a 41-year-old refugee who traveled to the clinic from Virginia,
died after an overdose of drugs allegedly given to her during a 2009
The doctor: Kermit Gosnell
Charged: Pearl Gosnell
Employee: Elizabeth Hampton
Arrested: Tina Baldwin
Assistant: Lynda Williams
Worker: Adrine Moton
Accomplice: Eileen O'Neil
Mugshot: Sherry West
Held: Maddline Joe
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon told
jurors in opening statements Monday that Gosnell, now 72, returned to
the impoverished neighborhood after medical school when he could have
struck it rich in the suburbs. He called the prosecution of his client,
who is black, ‘a lynching.’
prosecutors believe Gosnell made plenty of money over a 30-year career
using cheap, untrained staff, outdated medicines and barbaric techniques
to perform abortions on desperate, low-income women.
they say he made even more on the side running a ‘pill mill,’ where
addicts and drug dealers could get prescriptions for potent painkillers.
Authorities found $250,000 in cash and a gun at his home when they
searched it in 2010.
Gosnell, who told a judge in 2011 he was too poor to afford proper
legal representation, owned as many as 17 properties and earned $1.8million a year, according to a grand jury report.
According to the report, the Philadelphia Women’s Medical Society clinic was a 'baby charnel house' crawling with cats and reeking of animal urine and feces.
Furniture and blankets were stained with blood and instruments were not properly sterilized.
Disposable medical supplies were also reused while vital medical equipment such as the defibrillator and EKG machine were 'generally broken'.
Disturbingly, the report alleges that fetal remains were stuffed
into: 'cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and
Tiny baby feet, it is claimed, were discovered in specimen jars, lined up in a macabre collection.
House of horror: A grand jury photograph shows what police say are plastic bags hiding body parts in a refrigerator inside the Philadelphia practice
'(He) regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors,' said a report of the grand jury that investigated Gosnell and his clinic for a year.
According to the report the 'real' reason for the Women’s Medical Society: 'was not health; it was profit'.
'Gosnell catered to the women who couldn’t get abortions elsewhere – because they were too pregnant.
'For Dr. Gosnell, they were an opportunity. The bigger the baby, the more he charged.'
Most doctors won’t perform late second-trimester abortions - those in the 20th week of pregnancy, because of the risks involved.
But according to the report, Gosnell specialised in performing abortions well beyond 24 weeks.
Sickening: Another grand jury image showing what police claim are bags of body parts at the Philadelphia practice
'Babies that big are hard to get out. Gosnell’s approach, whenever possible, was to force full labour and delivery of premature infants on ill-informed women.
'The women would check in during the day, make payment, and take labor-inducing drugs.
doctor wouldn’t appear until evening, often 8.00, 9.00, or 10.00 pm,
and only then deal with any of the women who were ready to deliver. Many
of them gave birth before he even got there.'
Aside from hiding their profits in their 12-year-old daughter's closet, Gosnell and his wife are also accused of investing the profits in real estate.
Together, they own as many as 17 properties, according to published reports; prosecutors said they know of at least seven.
That includes at least five in Philadelphia and a house with two decks and a boat dock in Brigantine
The grand jury said while it believes Gosnell killed most of the babies he aborted after 24 weeks, it could not recommend murder charges for all of the cases.'
Victim: Karnamaya Mongar, 41, died at Dr Gosnell's clinic
'House of Horrors: The West Philadelphia Women's Medical Society, where Dr Gosnell held his practice
'In order to constitute murder, the act must involve a baby who was born alive,' the grand jury said in a report of almost 300 pages.
The panel also criticized Pennsylvania state health and medical regulators who said there were numerous opportunities to shut the clinic down over the years but complaints were ignored.
Four other clinic employees are charged with murder for roles prosecutors say they had in the deaths of Mongar or the viable babies. Gosnell's wife was charged with performing illegal abortions and other crimes and is being held on $1million bail.
As well as infanticide, Gosnell is also charged with the 2009 death of 41-year-old refugee Karnamaya Mongar at the clinic.
Unlicensed staff members gave Mongar far too much anesthesia for her 4ft 11in 110lb body, hours before Gosnell arrived for his evening slate of abortions, the grand jury charged.
Defense lawyer William J. Brennan, who represented Gosnell during the investigation, said Gosnell 'feels he has provided a general care medical facility in a fairly impoverished area for four decades.
'That's his belief,' Brennan said, 'and he's entitled to it.'
In one 1999 case, prosecutors said, 20-year-old Marie Smith was sent home after a Gosnell abortion unaware that he had been unable to remove the entire foetus from her uterus. Days later, vomiting and with a swollen abdomen and severe infection, Smith was taken to a hospital, where she was rushed into surgery.
Her mother, Johnnie Mae Smith, said she was shocked at the 'nasty and dirty, filthy' conditions in the clinic. When her daughter fell ill days later, she called Gosnell.
'I said, "What did you do to my daughter? ... My daughter's about to die," Smith said. 'He said, “Take her to the hospital".'
Tina Baldwin, 45, is charged with corruption of minors and helping to run a corrupt enterprise. Eight of her co-workers were charged with Gosnell.
Baldwin's husband, Michael Baldwin, said his wife got the Gosnell clinic job eight years ago after a business school she attended referred her there for an internship. She worked up front, taking cash from patients as they walked in.
Baldwin denied that his wife performed any medical tasks or witnessed anything untoward at Gosnell's clinic.
Besides his abortion practice, authorities said, Gosnell ranked third in the state for the number of prescriptions he wrote for OxyContin, the highly addictive narcotic painkiller.
Authorities allege that he left blank prescriptions for such drugs at his office and allowed staff to make them out to cash-paying patients who streamed in during the day, when he wasn't there.