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Abortion Doctor Found Guilty; O.J. Simpson Back in Court

Aired May 13, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And we continue to wait to learn the fate of this abortion doctor who faces first degree murder in Philadelphia, Kermit Gosnell. Sitting inside a Philadelphia courthouse here as these 19 charges are being read right now.

Paul Callan, let me bring you back in, joining me on the phone, our CNN legal analyst.

And one question I have for you as we await the charges being read here, have you ever heard of a case like this, a case involving an abortion doctor and these four first-degree murder charges involving babies?


And, actually, as I was watching the case go in, it really reminded me of the stories we used to hear back in the early days before Roe vs. Wade, when many American states made abortion a crime and women -- there were certain states like New York that permitted abortions, but other states did not and women sort of got these back- alley abortions.

And you would hear descriptions very similar to the descriptions we heard in this trial of terrible conditions and terrible, horrible things happening to the women. That such allegations would be made in this day and age after so many years that we thought we had escaped from that has been a surprise to a lot of people.

And I frankly can't remember having ever seen a criminal case involving this. Now, certainly, we have seen there have been criminal cases involving abortions and there have been people charged with demonstrating against abortion clinics, and as a matter of fact homicide cases against people who have killed doctors who perform abortions.

So, we have had a lot of controversial cases, but never a case like this that I can remember.

BALDWIN: And, again, these are 19 separate charges that he is facing, four of which involve first-degree murder of these babies, according to prosecutors, babies that were born alive.

Again, the defense says, no, that was not the case. But if -- Paul, if the jury convicts him on at least one, one of those counts of first-degree murder, he could face the death penalty, correct? CALLAN: Yes, he could face the death penalty. And if the jury finds against him on those counts or even one of those counts, the description of how the baby or the fetus, depending upon how far along the baby was at the time of the abortion, died is so horrible to contemplate.

I mean, they were virtually decapitated according to expert testimony in the case. Scissors were used to cut the spine of the newborn infants. And it would be certainly a case that would have to be taken very, very seriously at the time of sentencing if it's found that he knew that these were living human beings that he was killing.

So it's a horrific, horrific case if the jury comes in against him on this. Now, of course, the defense says none of this is true, that in fact these were legally sanctioned abortions, that this wasn't murder, that this was a medical procedure that is lawful in the United States and more particularly in the state of Pennsylvania, so, you know, a tough hard-fought case throughout the trial. So, you know, we will see what the jury has to say about it momentarily.

BALDWIN: We are waiting as those charges are being read out loud inside of that courtroom. Paul Callan, my thanks to you. Again, we have Sunny Hostin sitting inside that courtroom. And as soon as we get word, we will put her on TV and pass that verdict along to you here on CNN.

Let me switch gears though and talk about another happening in a courtroom today. O.J. Simpson, nothing quite like it when O.J. Simpson goes on trial. And here he was today back in court. O.J. Simpson, now 65, a little grayer, a few more pounds, he wants another trial. Let's quickly revisit the year 2007, 12 years after his acquittal for murder, O.J. Simpson wearing jeans and a lavender shirt, O.J. Simpson led five beefy men on this recovery operation.

And you're going to hear O.J. Simpson's voice. He's confronting these two men in this small Las Vegas hotel room. He believed they were trying to sell items they had stolen from him. Here he was.


O.J. SIMPSON, DEFENDANT: Don't let nobody out of this room. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and sell it?


SIMPSON: Don't let nobody out of here. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) You think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Backs to the wall!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was trying to get past you!


SIMPSON: Think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike took it.




BALDWIN: Well, as it turned out, two of Simpson's tough guys were armed that day, and that little circumstance didn't help Simpson as this case played out. He got 33 years robbery, kidnapping and assault, even though he said he was only taking items that rightly belonged to him.

So, with us now from Las Vegas, CNN's Ted Rowlands.

And, Ted, you were inside that courtroom. Tell me what happened and tell us about O.J. Simpson. He's aged a little bit since the last time we saw him.


I sat through the entire trial four-and-a-half years ago. And he has, like you said, put on a few pounds. He's losing a little hair, gaining some gray. You know, he sat there and listened. It's interesting. He is in prison garb, obviously. There's no jury here. But they made actually get shackled to the chair too.

So, his hands were free, but they shackled him with his waist shackles onto the chair. He didn't take any notes. He just sort of sat there. We're expecting a weeklong hearing. And, quite frankly, it's getting -- starting off fairly slowly, although his daughter Arnelle was just on the stand before the lunch break here.

And of course he was very happy to see his daughter so he smiled a lot when she was testifying. And he was actually reprimanded by the bailiffs for at one point turning around trying to make eye contact with people in the gallery. They came up to him and said, Mr. Simpson, you can't do that.

So, he's looking straight ahead. But you're right. He does look a little different. Like us all, Brooke, we age, especially I guess if you're in prison.


BALDWIN: Yes, I'm sure that that quickens the process.

Let's talk about Wednesday, because we know that that is when O.J. Simpson will be testifying, and he is saying his last attorney talked him actually out of doing just that. At the very least, Ted Rowlands, that should be pretty interesting for those of you in the courtroom to see.

ROWLANDS: Oh, absolutely. And talking to his attorneys, they say will be the first time -- and it's true -- you will hear O.J.'s side of this story from start to finish. It will be very compelling.

There are 19 separate things that they have said were ineffective in terms of his previous counsel, Yale Galanter. They're going after those. They only need one to get a new trial here. And this is of course the most common thing that folks in prison do. They say their lawyer stunk, so they deserve a new trial.

But there are a couple of those 19 that could give Simpson a real shot at it here. One is, you mentioned not being able to testify, saying he wanted to and his lawyer told him not to. But there was a plea deal apparently offered that he claims he knew nothing about, which was only two to five years. He would be out of jail, out of prison right now if he accepted that.

And the other one was Yale Galanter, his leader attorney, he claims, knew about this caper the day before it happened and was completely privy to it all. If that is true, it would be a clear conflict of interests for his attorney to have been involved in this crime. That's really the one that they're concentrating on.

BALDWIN: Ted Rowlands for us in Vegas, Ted, thank you.

And in Washington today -- you heard it right here -- President Obama lashing out at the IRS for singling out conservative groups, giving them added scrutiny when they apply for tax-exempt status.

This began to blow up just this past Friday. These are the president's first remarks on the particular matter.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it.


BALDWIN: His hard line aside, that's not the last time he will be asked about that. He took a totally different tone when questioned about Benghazi.

Jake Tapper, our chief Washington correspondent, joins me.

And, Jake, the president, he seemed pretty dismissive toward the House Republicans who are pushing this probe.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, specifically, the president was targeting against his ire at those who are asking questions about the talking points. This is the series of e-mails and talking points that were intended for members of Congress in the days immediately after the attack on the compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

And the president targeted his dismissal at those Republicans and that area of inquiry. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The whole issue of this -- of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.

What we have been very clear about was that immediately after this happened, we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were.


TAPPER: It's an interesting construct. What we have been very clear about is that initially after the attack we were not clear, but the idea that there were so many differing view points as to whether or not it was an act of terrorism or whether or not this was a demonstration that got out of control, the allegation by Republicans is that the White House and others in the administration were trying to cover it up and dismiss the idea that this was terrorism.

President Obama did acknowledge the one big issue that that independent review looked at, Brooke, which is whether or not and why so many people in the State Department denied the request for more security that were made by diplomats on the ground in Libya. He acknowledged those individuals did not have enough security and that was a serious problem -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jake Tapper, we will look for you at the top of the hour on "THE LEAD" 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Thank you, sir. We will see you then.

TAPPER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: In the meantime, we sit and we wait to learn the fate of Kermit Gosnell, that abortion doctor facing first-degree murder charges, facing three-degree murder with regard to a patient, conspiracy, abortion, theft, corruption, solicitation, folks, 263 counts this man faces. That's next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Such a tremendous interest in this case that's playing out right now inside this courtroom in Philadelphia.

So let me just again remind you, we're waiting, we're waiting as these 19 charges are being read aloud. This jury has finally come to a conclusion on these 263 counts that this abortion doctor is facing.

And let me just run through some of them, third degree murder as it pertains to this patient of his. There are four first-degree murder charges. And, remember, first-degree murder, if convicted of one of the four, he could face the death penalty, facing infanticide charges, violations of the Controlled Substances Act because, keep in mind, this whole thing, this whole case cracked open and unveiled this Pandora's box because federal investigators found out -- they were investigating whether or not he was giving out narcotics to folks in this clinic that he owned and operated for 30 years.

Little did they know what else they would find. In addition to those charges, perjury, illegal late-term abortion, violation of the Abortion Control Act, abuse of corpse, theft by deception. The list goes on and on and on.

Sunny Hostin, our CNN legal analyst, is sitting inside that courtroom listening to those charges being read aloud. As soon as we get that, we will talk to her and let you know the fate of this man.

In the meantime, here's Sunny with some background on this case.


SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): Here at Dr. Kermit Gosnell's shuttered Philadelphia clinic, affixed to the window sill, tiny baby hands made of plaster, a memorial by an unknown artist at the medical facility prosecutors have branded a house of horrors, where illegal late-term abortions were performed.

At this impromptu shrine, people stop and stare, including Shari McKinley (ph), who says she was one of Dr. Gosnell's former patients. The gruesome allegations of the case, dirty procedure rooms, blood- stained and weathered equipment, babies born alive, breathing and crying only to have their spinal cord snipped by scissors shocked the nation and has prompted McKinley to rethink what she went through six years ago.

(on camera): Do you think your baby was alive?


HOSTIN: How have you dealt with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I try not to think about it, you know, but I think about it. It's sad. And I wish I never did it. If I would have known what I know now, I wouldn't have had an abortion a day in my life.

HOSTIN (voice-over): McKinley, now a mother, says he was approximately six months pregnant at the time Dr. Gosnell performed her abortion, which was not part of the criminal case against him.

In Pennsylvania, like many states, abortions are illegal after 24 weeks. CNN could not independently verify her account and Gosnell's lawyers are under a gag order.

Others in this community remember Gosnell as their neighborhood doctor, a man who seemed ever ready to lend a helping hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When my mother got sick, she was ill with cancer for about 14 years, the last years of her life, Dr. Gosnell was definitely very helpful in terms of making house calls and...

HOSTIN (on camera): He actually made house calls to see your mother? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, he did, he did, he did. He did come to the house and make house calls to my mother when she was in the last couple years of her life.

HOSTIN (voice-over): The question now, how did this neighborhood doctor become a defendant in one of the most gruesome trials in Philadelphia history?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there are two sides to every coin and I think the guy that I knew growing up, there has to be some of that still in there.

HOSTIN: Sunny Hostin, CNN, Philadelphia.


BALDWIN: Coming up next: a manhunt under way for the person or persons responsible for shooting up a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans. You're about to hear from one of the victims who still has a bullet in his leg, plus new surveillance video just in.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right.

We are seconds now, I promise you, seconds away from hearing of how this jury decided in this abortion doctor case in Philadelphia. I am being told that our legal analyst who is sitting in that courthouse is literally putting on a microphone as I speak and stepping in front of the camera.

But, again, this is a man -- repeat that one more time? Sorry. I'm listening to my executive producer in my ear. You're telling guilty of first-degree murder? How many counts, Eric (ph)?

Three counts. All right. Forgive me as I am getting the news as I pass it along to you. So, here we go, guilty on three counts of first-degree murder. This is what we're getting from Sunny Hostin, who is inside the courtroom.

That obviously is huge. This is a man who according to this grand jury report, according to prosecutors, routinely performed illegal third-term abortions by, forgive the gruesome nature of some of this testimony, but basically by snipping babies' spinal cords with scissors.

And so they had accused him of murdering these babies who they said were born alive. And so with those four first-degree counts -- four counts of first-degree murder, we're learning he has been found guilty of three of those four counts.

Sunny Hostin, can you hear me? Are you with me? There you are.

HOSTIN: Yes. BALDWIN: Sunny, tell me, tell me what you have learned from the jury.

HOSTIN: Well, the jury has found Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of three capital charges involving Baby A, Baby C and Baby D. He was found not guilty of capital murder for Baby E.

But, again, the important counts here are the capital charges. He was charged with four, found guilty of three. He was also found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of one of his patients, Ms. Mongar. And so altogether, we're talking about three capital charges, murder in the first degree involving infants and we're also talking about one count of involuntary manslaughter.

And I'm looking, Brooke, at the verdict sheet, because it's so very extensive. As we have mentioned before, he was charged with 263 counts in this case, 19 charges altogether. He was found guilty in total of 242 counts, 17 charges in all. This was almost a sweep for the prosecution.

Brooke, I will tell you that the prosecutor was sobbing in the courtroom as she was holding one of the investigators. And the defendant, interestingly enough, Dr. Gosnell, he really was almost emotionless when the jury was polled, when the jury came back with their very extensive verdict.

It was only after the jury left and I had the opportunity to look at him, and that's why I actually -- I waited to get his reaction. He was just shaking his head no, almost as in a disbelief, almost in disbelief.

BALDWIN: Wow. So you made eye contact. So you stuck around to see this man, this man who now as we have learned, he has been convicted on three of those four capital accounts counts, the first- degree murder. So, that obviously is huge, because that could mean he could face the death penalty.

Sunny, though, I just want to hear more about the atmosphere inside the courtroom. You say the prosecutor was sobbing?

HOSTIN: The prosecutor was sobbing.

And I'm right in front of the courthouse. It was packed in that courtroom. In fact, we were locked inside for this verdict. And I will tell you, Brooke, everyone in Philadelphia has been talking about this case. The jury deliberated 10 days in this case. Everyone is talking about it.

And there was just such tension in the courtroom. And I was a federal prosecutor. I have tried cases. I have covered cases. I haven't ever been in a courtroom quite like this one. People almost were not breathing. And again there was such a presence of courtroom officers. I would say by my count at least 20 officers were in the courtroom for the reading of this verdict.

It really is something almost as if I have never seen. I want to mention there was a co-defendant in this case, Dr. O'Neill. She was found guilty of, by my count, four counts of conspiracy and also of false impression. Now, she was crying pretty much throughout the reading of the verdicts.

I also stayed around, looked at her. She was -- seemed to have a look of acceptance on her face, but really almost hysterical, just sobbing in her seat. Her face was quite red, in contrast to Dr. Gosnell, who was pretty stone-faced up until the very end. He seemed almost shell-shocked.

BALDWIN: Sunny, I have watched your reporting on this trial. And you specifically said this is one of the most gruesome cases ever in Philadelphia.

And, if we can, just -- the details are absolutely gruesome, but in terms of the rarity of a case like this, here you have this abortion doctor owned and operated this clinic in the neighborhood three decades and now he faces -- he faces being put to death because of what he has now been convicted of doing. Have you ever heard of a case involving fetuses, babies like this?

HOSTIN: I really haven't.

And one thing that struck me, having been a prosecutor, Brooke, I have seen a lot of gruesome things during my career, unfortunately. And the grand jury report in this case had exhibits and pictures attached to it. I have never seen anything like that. Both as a mother and as a lawyer, it was really very difficult to cover this case, very difficult to review the grand jury report.

And in the grand jury report, you saw pictures of these babies born, and they were quite large. And you also, as our viewers know, he was now convicted of snipping the cords, the spinal cords on the back of these babies' necks. And you could see the incisions on the back of their necks in the grand jury report. So, this is really something the likes of I have just never seen.

BALDWIN: OK. Sunny Hostin, let me get a break in. I have one more question to you as far as what is next for him, but quick break.

Again, breaking news, Kermit Gosnell again now found guilty, convicted on three of these first-degree murder charges.

We're back in a moment.