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Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell will serve life in prison for the murder of three babies who were born alive, and whose necks were snipped with scissors. Gosnell was sentenced on Wednesday in accordance with a plea bargain.
Gosnell agreed to take life in prison as part of a plea deal in order for the notorious doctor to avoid a potential death sentence, reports the Associated Press.
It is almost certain that Gosnell, 72, will spend the rest of his natural life in prison, and he may have given up some rights by accepting the plea bargain.
What Are Plea Bargains?
Plea bargains are agreements between prosecutors and the defendant that typically involve the defendant pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence or less serious conviction.
Gosnell's case is slightly different since he was already convicted by a jury of his crimes, and the only bargaining left was concerning either life in prison or the death penalty.
In exchange for Gosnell avoiding the possibility of the death penalty, he agreed with prosecutors "to waive all of his appellate rights," reports The Christian Science Monitor.
Waiving Appellate Rights
When a defendant agrees to waive his appellate rights, he must both know what rights he's giving up and agree on the record that he is doing so voluntarily.
By agreeing to this plea bargain, Gosnell would not be able to appeal his conviction to a higher court for a possibility of a new trial or different conviction.
However, he may potentially be able to appeal a future change in his sentence, such as a possible supervised release, even after waiving his appellate rights.
The Habeas Option
Although it may be the subject of debate, Gosnell should still retain the right to petition the court for a habeas hearing. If he pursued such a hearing, it would address alleged denials of the convicted doctor's rights.
This may be particularly important if Gosnell later claims that he accepted the plea bargain for life in prison due to ineffective assistance by his attorney.