Former Gosnell employee testifies that problem abortion "really freaked me out"
Sherry West hated working in the room where Gosnell performed abortions.
Testifying under a deal with prosecutors, she pleaded guilty to third-degree murder.
West said she and other workers did not give drugs to patients without first calling Gosnell.
Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 3:01 AM
Kermit Gosnell had been Sherry West's doctor for more than 20 years and gave her a job when she was ill and out of work.
Still, West testified, she hated working in the room where Gosnell performed abortions - never more than the night a staffer asked for help with a problem at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia.
"There was this clear glass pan, and I saw it, and I thought,'What do you expect me to do?' " West testified Monday at Gosnell's murder trial.
"It wasn't fully developed," West told the Common Pleas Court jury, referring to the 18- to 24-inch-long newborn in the pan. It didn't have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise. It was weird. It sounded like a little alien."
Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, West, 53, said she did not know what happened to the "specimen" - the term she said she used because "it was easier to deal with mentally."
"It really freaked me out, and I said call Dr. Gosnell, and I went back out front," West added.
Testifying under a deal with prosecutors after she pleaded guilty to third-degree murder involving the overdose death of a Gosnell abortion patient, West was the reluctant leadoff witness as the trial entered its fourth week.
Under questioning from Gosnell's lawyer, Jack McMahon, West buckled, began crying, and revised some answers she had given Pescatore.
West insisted she and other workers did not give drugs to patients without first calling Gosnell.
And West recanted her guilty plea to administering some of the sedative that anesthetized - and killed - Karnamaya Mongar, 41, on Nov. 19, 2009.
"Do you think you're guilty of the crime?" McMahon asked.
"No," West said, sobbing.
"Then why did you plead guilty?" McMahon asked.
"It was so confusing," West cried. "I didn't know what to do."
Pescatore then reviewed West's plea bargain again, and West admitted she voluntarily pleaded guilty hoping for leniency when she is sentenced.
Gosnell, 72, is on trial on seven counts of first-degree murder, accused of killing infants born alive and viable during illegal late-term abortions.
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He faces a possible death sentence if the jury finds him guilty.
Gosnell is also charged with third-degree murder in Mongar's death. Prosecutors say Mongar was given too much Demerol by Gosnell's untrained staff.
Also on trial is Eileen O'Neill, 56, of Phoenixville, an unlicensed medical school graduate who saw patients as part of Gosnell's family practice. She did not perform abortions; she is accused of participating in a "corrupt organization."
Like three other Gosnell employees who testified, West was hired by Gosnell as she was going through personal problems.