Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was found guilty on three counts of premeditated first-degree murder on Monday, following a five-week trial involving allegations of fetuses being killed after being removed from the womb.
Gosnell, 72, who once ran a clinic in West Philadelphia, was also convicted on one count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of an adult female patient. Prosecutors have stated that they will seek the death penalty for the murders, The New York Times reports.
What's next for the notorious late-term abortion doctor in the sentencing phase of his trial?
Two Trial Phases
Several states allow the death penalty, including Pennsylvania. In death penalty cases, the trial is separated into two phases:
For Gosnell, his sentencing phase is set to begin May 21, when jurors will begin to hear testimony to help them determine whether to impose the death penalty, reports ABC News.
Sentencing in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law requires a jury to hear evidence following a guilty verdict for first degree murder concerning mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the murder.
Much like in the guilt phase of Gosnell's trial, prosecutors must prove any aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.
A Pennsylvania jury cannot sentence a defendant to death without a unanimous finding of at least one aggravating factor which is not outweighed by a mitigating factor.
Gosnell could potentially face these common aggravating circumstances:
But there's one notable caveat to Pennsylvania's death penalty law: It technically does not allow the death penalty in cases of first-degree murder of an unborn child. In Dr. Kermit Gosnell's case, however, it is likely that the fetuses will be considered "born" for purposes of sentencing.