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Defense rests after one day in Philadelphia doctor murder trial

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is seen during an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News at his attorney's office in Philadelphia in March 2010.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is seen during an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News at his attorney's office in Philadelphia in March 2010.Yong Kim / Philadelphia Daily News via AP

Defense lawyers for a Philadelphia-area doctor accused of killing babies — via botched late-term abortions — presented their case and rested without calling any witnesses on Wednesday, handing the high-profile murder trial over to the jury.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, faces four first-degree murder charges for the mangled abortions, and a third degree murder charge for a woman who underwent an abortion and died at a nearby hospital after being given a lethal dose of pain killers and anesthesia.

On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania judge dismissed three additional murder charges after Gosnell's defense team argued that it could not be proven some of the infants were alive when born.

Gosnell could face the death penalty in the case being heard in Common Please Court in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors dubbed Gosnell's health clinic as a "house of horrors," where they say he repeatedly blundered late-term abortions. Abortions are banned in Pennsylvania after 24 weeks of pregnancy, but the district attorney's office has contended that Gosnell killed babies after they were born.

Defense attorney Jack McMahon argued that his client administered drugs to stop the fetuses' heart in utero, and employees who testified they saw movement after the infant was born could only have been noticing be involuntary spasms, NBCPhiladelphia.com reported. 

Eight other former co-workers, including Gosnell's wife, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing for charges that range from third-degree murder to racketeering. Gosnell has been in prison since 2011.

Reuters contributed to this report