PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former abortion clinic worker capped the five-week murder trial of her former boss with powerful testimony that she saw more than 10 babies breathe before they were killed.
"I thought they were breathing," Kareema Cross testified Thursday, explaining that she saw their chests go up and down in the clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. "He would say they're not really breathing."
Cross, 28, is the final prosecution witness in the capital murder case against Gosnell. He is charged in the deaths of a patient and seven babies allegedly born alive.
Cross also described seeing three babies move, one after being born in a toilet, and heard a fourth give a "soft whine."
Cross, who worked at the clinic from 2005 to 2009, was so disturbed by its operation that she took photos and called authorities, although she gave a relative's name.
A 2011 grand jury report blasts state and city officials for failing to inspect or shut down Gosnell's busy clinic in West Philadelphia. A 2010 FBI raid over Gosnell's separate pain management practice ultimately led to its closure.
The defense has denied that babies were born alive, and Cross is sure to face strenuous questioning Thursday afternoon from Gosnell's lawyer, Jack McMahon.
Her direct testimony encompassed many of the charges against Gosnell and nine co-defendants.
She admitted she studied only to be a medical assistant, but performed ultrasounds, gave anesthesia drugs and helped perform abortions.
She said she routinely saw Gosnell abort babies who were past the state's 24-week abortion limit. She said staff left late-term patients alone on the second floor after they'd been given painkillers and potent drugs to induce labor, and said some even stayed overnight unattended in a makeshift bedroom.
She said Gosnell and others snipped the backs of the babies' necks after they were born and sometimes removed the brain through the opening. And she described the clinic as filthy and the equipment as outdated.
One of her photographs, shown to jurors on a large screen, shows the fetal feet Gosnell kept in specimen jars, allegedly for DNA purposes.
Another photograph, taken by a co-worker, showed "the largest baby she had ever seen" aborted at the clinic.
The jury has seen the disturbing picture before and heard from the boy's then-teenage mother. The baby's gestational age has been estimated by some to be nearly 30 weeks.
The teen mother was asleep when the baby came out, and Gosnell put the body in a container the size of a shoe box, Cross testified. The baby drew in its arms and legs and curled up in a fetal position, she said.
In a line the jury has also heard before, she recalled Gosnell saying, "The baby's big enough that it could walk to the store, walk to the bus."
Cross has pleaded guilty to federal drug charges for administering medications at the clinic, and hopes to get probation for her cooperation.