Philadelphia Daily News, Yong Kim
In this March 8, 2010 photo, Dr. Kermit Gosnell is seen during an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News at his attorney's office in Philadelphia. Gosnell, an abortion doctor who catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women at the Women's Medical Society, was charged Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.

PHILADELPHIA — Without explanation or excuse, West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell started serving three consecutive life sentences Wednesday for the murder of three babies who a jury found were born alive during illegal late-term abortions.

After the jury's verdict Monday, the 72-year-old physician had faced a hearing next week at which the jurors would decide whether to sentence him to death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole.

Gosnell quickly took the decision away from them. Late Tuesday afternoon, he struck a deal with the District Attorney's Office under which he waived his appeal rights to escape a death sentence.

The deal reduced Wednesday's sentencing hearing to a 15-minute formality and Minehart said nothing but the words needed to sentence him.

Gosnell thanked the judge for his nine-week trial and turned to defense attorney Jack McMahon and said, "Good job."

Gosnell faces a federal trial Sept. 9 in the alleged trafficking in prescriptions for highly addictive narcotics. That investigation led to the Feb. 18, 2010, raid on Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic and revealed the illegal abortion practice.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron told Minehart in court Wednesday that McMahon and federal prosecutors were also working toward a guilty plea.

With Gosnell sentenced, Minehart and Judge Benjamin Lerner will begin sentencing the eight clinic employees who pleaded guilty. A ninth employee, Eileen O'Neill, 52, of Phoenixville, an unlicensed doctor who worked in Gosnell's family practice, went to trial with Gosnell, was convicted of defrauding patients and will be sentenced July 15.