Researcher accused of murder by cyanide won't face death penalty
The University of Pittsburgh researcher accused of killing his wife with cyanide won't face the death penalty when the case goes to trial, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office decided.
Robert Ferrante, 65, remains in the Allegheny County Jail without bail. He is scheduled to appear at a formal arraignment on Wednesday.
Police accused Ferrante of lacing an energy drink with cyanide to kill his wife, Autumn Marie Klein, 41, a prominent UPMC neurologist who died on April 20.
On Monday, his attorney, Bill Difenderfer, filed a motion to allow a private detective to visit his client in jail. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Thursday, court records show. Difenderfer did not return calls.
Ferrante pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on a homicide charge on July 30. He has denied involvement in his wife's death.
District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala could not be reached for comment.
Pennsylvania law requires prosecutors to determine whether aggravating factors exist to justify pursuing the death penalty.
Those factors include torture; that a murder occurred during the commission of certain felonies; the victim was younger than 12; the murder of a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy; the victim was a government employee; or a murder was committed against a person held as a shield, as a hostage or for ransom.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Cashman has imposed a gag order in the case. The judge froze all but $280,000 of Ferrante's assets and placed his daughter, Cianna, 6, with her grandparents, Bill and Lois Klein of Towson, Md.
Ferrante, a leading researcher of the neurological disease ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, spent more than 20 years at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He and Klein met while she was a student where he worked at the VA Hospital in Bedford, Mass.
The University of Pittsburgh placed Ferrante on indefinite leave shortly after police filed charges.
Police said Ferrante bought cyanide with a Pitt credit card on April 15 and had it shipped to his laboratory. On April 17, he called 911 to say Klein collapsed at home. Paramedics found her unresponsive on the kitchen floor. She died three days later.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Consumer, core prices inch up
- Pitt offense eyes healthy balance
- Karns City soccer teams advance
- Flyers continue mastery of Penguins at Consol
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Leader Times Q&A: Redbank Valley’s Wyatt Hetrick
- Contempt citation sought by state against Highmark for alleged violation of deal with UPMC
- Central Valley girls win 3rd straight PIAA golf title
- Woman accused of dealing drugs in Donora
- Canadians more fearful, aware after ‘very rare’ attack in Ottawa