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3 murder charges dismissed in Gosnell case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- An abortion provider charged with killing babies after they were born alive won a reprieve when a judge threw out three murder counts, but the death penalty still looms if he is convicted in four other newborn deaths.

Lawyers for Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, could start presenting defense witnesses as early as Wednesday. Gosnell has been in prison since a 2011 grand jury report that described his outdated West Philadelphia clinic as "a house of horrors."

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart had ruled Tuesday that prosecutors over the past month failed to make a case on three of the seven first-degree murder counts, involving aborted babies known as Baby B, Baby C and Baby G.

On Wednesday, Minehart clarified that he did not intend to dismiss charges related to Baby C, which former employee Lynda Williams admits killing after it was alive for 20 minutes.

Instead, Minehart has thrown out the charges involving Baby F, which allegedly jerked its leg after it was born. Another staff member says Gosnell then cut the baby's neck to "ensure fetal demise."

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