By Cheryl Sullenger with Lauren Handy
Queens, NY – The trial of abortionist Robert Rho continues today for the fifteenth day of testimony in the Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Division in Queens, New York. Rho is on trial for one count of Felony Second Degree Manslaughter (reckless homicide) for causing the death of 30-year old Jaime Morales during a seriously botched 26-week abortion.
Operation Rescue’s trail observer, Lauren Handy, was in court on Thursday, April 26, 2018, when a witness that testified last Monday, Dr. Arup De, an expert in anesthesiology, retook the stand for what proved to be a raucous round of cross examination by defense attorney Jeff Lichtman in a case that has been fraught with tense emotion.
During his previous testimony, Dr. De noted that it was wrong for Rho to administer anesthesia and conduct surgery at the same time. He noted that Rho was not board certified in anesthesiology, nor did he employ any staff that was qualified to administer anesthesia.
Dr. De also had told the court it was possible that Morales’ anesthesia report was forged because it did not accurately represent what an average patient’s vital signs would be. He said it was nearly impossible for anyone to have the numbers that were noted on the medical records. He further testified that, according to a video shown in court, Morales should never have been released by Rho in her obviously unresponsive condition.
Attempting to mitigate this devastating testimony that showed Rho had lied on medical records to cover up the truth about Morales’ condition, Lichtman challenged De on the need for Rho to have board certification in anesthesiology. Lichtman opined that because Rho had conducted thousands of abortions, he would have had ample experience in administering anesthesia even if he was not certified.
De stuck to his testimony that Rho was not a certified anesthesiologist and should not have been doing anesthesia and surgery simultaneously.
Lichtman’s cross examination devolved into badgering, causing Judge Gregory Lasak to warn him about arguing with the witness. This resulted in a bench conference where Lichtman was seen arguing with prosecutor Brad Leventhal.
Lichtman again begins his adversarial questioning of De when Judge Lasak again stops it and calls the attorneys to his bench for another conference.
When questioning resumed, Lichtman pointed to an interview in which Rho had said he had done some training in anesthesia during his residency. De countered that a week-long course of sedation training was not the same as being a board-certified anesthesiologist.
Lichtman resumed badgering the witness, causing Leventhal to jump up and shout, “Objection! Objection! Objection! Objection!” This resulted in yet another tense bench conference.
Leventhal then began to question De on redirect. He showed De a box of sedation medicine and asked him to read the warning, which stated a physician “should not preform anesthesia and surgery concurrently.”
De testified that even if Rho “had some training” over 25 years ago, it was a gross deviance in of the standard of care for a doctor to do surgery and anesthesia at the same time.
During Lichtman’s final questioning, he was able to persuade De to admit that there is a difference between “should” and “must.” This ended De’s testimony.
The defense’s line of questioning appears to have been for the purpose of attempting to remove doubt in the minds of the jury about Rho’s truthfulness, qualifications, and willingness (or ability) to operate within the standard of care that may have been caused by De’s damaging testimony.
However, Morales did not die from improper anesthesia, according to testimony related to her autopsy records. She died from blood loss due to serious internal injuries, including the laceration of her uterus, uterine artery, cervix and vagina, which were not properly handled by Rho.
“Anesthesiology had nothing to do with causing those lacerations and ensuing hemorrhaging, done in-advisably during a one-day abortion procedure on a six-month pre-born baby,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
Earlier testimony indicated that Rho further attempted to conceal the seriousness of Morales’ condition by “cinching” her cervix shut to make it appear that she had stopped bleeding when actually she continued to hemorrhage internally. Then, instead of calling for an ambulance, Rho released her in an unresponsive condition.
Finally, a written statement from the medical examiner was introduced as the last piece of evidence for the prosecution. This statement summarized the M.E’s findings that showed, through DNA profiling, that Morales was the “biological mother of the unborn fetus” that was examined by the medical examiner and forensic anthropologist Dr. Bradley Adams. Adams had determined that the baby was 24-26 weeks gestation at the time of the abortion.
With that, the prosecution rested. Judge Lasak immediately ruled against a defense motion to dismiss the case for lack of evidence against Rho, and court was dismissed for the day. The trial continued on Friday, April 27, 2018, with the defense presenting their case.
Operation Rescue’s in-court observer, Lauren Handy, who was absent from court on Friday, is in court today, and Operation Rescue will continue to report on trial developments as we receive them. The case is expected to go to the jury on May 3.
If convicted, Rho faces up to 15 years in prison.
“We want to commend Lauren Handy for her work on behalf of Operation Rescue. Her observations from the courtroom have been informative and insightful,” said Newman. “There have been no other media outlets covering this case so far. Without Lauren, we would have no idea what is transpiring in court or have any details concerning the evidence in this important abortion-manslaughter case. She is really doing us all a great service.”
Operation Rescue’s previous trial coverage:
Abortionist’s Manslaughter Trial Testimony Reveals Patient Suffered a Painful Death
Testimony: Fatal Injuries Resulted from Rho’s Single-Day Dismemberment Abortion of 6-Month Old Pre-Born Baby
Prosecution Rests as Tensions Rise in Abortion Manslaughter Case
Devastating Testimony Countered by Witness Badgering in Abortion-Manslaughter Trial
By Cheryl Sullenger with Lauren Handy