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Abortion doctor convicted of murder waives appeal, avoids death sentence

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 4:58pm

A Philadelphia abortion provider found guilty of first-degree murder has agreed give up his right to appeal in exchange for avoiding a possible death sentence, Philadelphia's district attorney's office announced Tuesday.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was convicted Monday on three counts of murder for killing babies by cutting their spinal cords with scissors.

The next step in the case was to have been the penalty phase, when jurors would have weighed whether to give Gosnell a death sentence.

But the deal erases the need for that phase.

According to a statement from the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, Gosnell on Tuesday "agreed to waive all of his appellate rights in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty." He was "immediately sentenced."

A jury also found Gosnell guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the case of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died of an anesthetic overdose during a second-trimester abortion at Gosnell's West Philadelphia clinic.

Additionally, Gosnell, who is not a board-certified obstetrician or gynecologist, was found guilty of 21 counts of abortion of the unborn, 24 weeks or older.

In Pennsylvania, abortions past 24 weeks are illegal unless the health of the mother is at stake.

Gosnell's co-defendant, Eileen O'Neill, 56, was found guilty of conspiracy to operate a corrupt organization and two counts of theft by deception for operating without a license to practice medicine. O'Neill, a medical school graduate, was not charged with performing illegal abortions.

Both pleaded not guilty.

Eight people involved in Gosnell's clinic, called the Women's Medical Society, earlier pleaded guilty to various charges. Four of them pleaded guilty to murder.

-- CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet, Josh Levs, David Ariosto, Jason Hanna and Dana Ford contributed to this report.

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