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Toxicologist says woman who died at Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic given far more Demerol than her records showed

by | Mar 27, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore before the jury in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell  (photo NBC 10)

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore before the jury in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell
(photo NBC 10)

When we left off yesterday, the defense attorney for abortionist Kermit Gosnell was angrily lecturing Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart about the proper procedure for determining whether the jury ought to hear the testimony of toxicologist Timothy Rohrig. It was so heated Minehart ordered Jack McMahon to sit down.

Following almost five hours of verbal sparring, Judge Minehart ruled that Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist and director of the Sedgwick County, Kan., Regional Forensic Science Center, could interpret for the jury the significance of the amount of Demerol found in Karnamaya Mongar’s body.

A tiny, petite refugee from Bhutan, Mongar died, prosecutors argued, when Gosnell’s untrained staff gave her multiple doses of Demerol and other drugs during her November 19, 2009,abortion.

Rohrig testified that Mongar received far more of a powerful sedative than her records showed. The defense claims that in the 24 hours before her abortion, 150 milligrams of Demerol were administered.

However, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Joseph A. Slobodzian,

“Rohrig told Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore that clinic records were inconsistent with the 710 micrograms of Demerol found in a blood sample taken from Mongar’s heart during autopsy.

Rohrig conceded there was no way he could accurately estimate how much Demerol Mongar had before she died. But he said that there was no way 710 micrograms could remain in her blood shortly after death if she had only been given 150 milligrams.

“’It was more than 150 and probably a lot more than 150,” Rohrig testified.”

(McMahon has maintained that Mongar had respiratory problems, which she hid, that made her more vulnerable to Demerol.)

When McMahon went back and forth with the judge with the jury out of the courtroom, McMahon “cited three studies he said concluded there is no reliable way to estimate drug levels in a living person based on blood samples taken after death,” Slobodzian reported.

When McMahon questioned Rohrig, he tried making the same argument. But Rohrig said that the studies were “’cautionaries’ warning forensic experts of the pitfalls of estimating drug levels in a live person from blood drawn after death,” according to Slobodzian. “Yes, you’re supposed to be careful so you don’t go down the wrong path,” Rohrig added.

But Rohrig went on to note that his opinion has been admitted in testimony in more than 200 trials.

Gosnell is on trial for eight counts of murder. Seven are first-degree counts–for the deaths of seven viable unborn babies Gosnell aborted alive and then killed (the Grand Jury said) by “sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord”–and one count of 3rd  degree murder in the death of the 41-year-old Mongar.

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Categories: Gosnell