Court Roundup

Pennsylvania
Sentencing put off for employees at abortion clinic 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sentencing was postponed Wednesday for two women who pleaded guilty for their work at a corrupt, grimy Philadelphia abortion clinic whose owner was convicted of killing babies born alive.
A judge rescheduled the sentencing date for Sherry West, 53, and Tina Baldwin, 47, because both women still have unresolved federal drug charges pending.
West was convicted of third-degree murder. Baldwin pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, and corrupting a minor — her daughter, who also worked at Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s clinic. West and Baldwin are now scheduled to be sentenced June 24.
Gosnell, 72, was convicted this month of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of three infants, and involuntary manslaughter in the death of patient Karnamaya Mongar, who was given a fatal overdose of painkillers.
Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by “snipping” their spines, as he referred to it, former clinic employees testified at his trial.
The case became a flashpoint in the nation’s polarized abortion debate. Foes said it exposed the true nature of abortion in all its disturbing detail. Abortion rights activists warned that Gosnell’s practice foreshadows what women could face if abortion is driven underground with more restrictive laws.
Also scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday was Gosnell’s wife, Pearl, 51, who has spent two years on house arrest and could be sent to prison for racketeering and performing an illegal abortion.

Massachusetts
Suspects in UMass rape ordered to submit their DNA 

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A judge has ordered three defendants charged with raping a female student at the University of Massachusetts to submit DNA samples to investigators.
Lawyers for all three men objected to the order Tuesday in Hampshire Superior Court, but immediately after the hearing 19-year Emmanuel Bile and 18-year-old Adam Liccardi, both of Pittsfield, and 18-year-old Caleb Womack, of Windsor Locks, Conn., submitted cheek-swab samples.
A fourth defendant in the case, 19-year-old Justin King, of Pittsfield, already had submitted a DNA sample.
All four are charged with raping the student in her Amherst dorm room in October. None of the suspects is a UMass student, but all knew the woman.
They are free on bail after pleading not guilty. Their lawyers say the sex was consensual.

Florida
Supreme Court denies execution stay for prisoner

STARKE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution Wednesday for the man convicted of raping and strangling a young girl 22 years ago near Orlando, hours before he was scheduled by die by lethal injection.
The petition was the final attempt to stop 56-year-old Elmer Carroll’s execution at Florida State Prison in Starke. His lawyers argued he should have been considered mentally ill at the time of the murder.
Department of Corrections officials have set the execution time for Carroll at 6 p.m.
In November 1990, Carroll was indicted on a count of first-degree murder and sexual battery for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowan.
Christine’s stepfather found the girl dead in her bedroom and his truck was missing. The truck was found a short time later and an officer came upon Carroll — who had blood on his sweatshirt and genitals, while traces of his semen, saliva and pubic hair were found on Christine, according to court records.
Carroll’s lawyers employed the insanity defense at his trial, during which they and prosecutors presented conflicting testimony from psychiatrists about Carroll’s mental competency. During his two decades on death row, Carroll’s lawyers argued that he’s too mentally ill to stand trial or be subjected to the death penalty.

Texas
Judge delays Hasan’s request to represent himself

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A judge says a report shows that an Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage has the mental capacity to represent himself at his trial.
But the judge says she wants Maj. Nidal Hasan to have a physical exam before she decides on his request to represent himself.
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, said she’ll decide on his request after his doctor testifies at a hearing Monday. Hasan is paralyzed from the waist down after being shot the day of the rampage at the Texas Army post.
Hasan faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he is convicted..

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