“Jurors heard Doctor Klein on the 911 tape, groaning and gasping for air, while Ferrante was on the phone with EMS dispatchers the night he killed her.”
A University of Pittsburgh doctor who was found guilty of poisoning his doctor-wife last November will spend the rest of his life in a Pennsylvania state prison.
An Allegheny County jury of four women and eight men reviewed the facts of the case for 15 hours before convicting Doctor Robert Joseph Ferrante in the cyanide death of his wife. Their verdict was unanimous.
Ferrante was given the mandatory criminal sentence on February 4 for the first-degree murder of his wife, Doctor Autumn Klein, in April 2013, by Pennsylvania Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning. In closing the case, Judge Manning said this:
“Murder is unique. It abolishes the party it injures, so society has to take the place of the victim and on his or her behalf, demand atonement or grant forgiveness,” Judge Manning said. “We are here today to demand atonement.”
Ferrante, age 66, is a former University of Pittsburgh researcher. He was found guilty of putting cyanide in his wife’s drink on the evening of April 17, 2013, after she returned home from working a 15-hour shift. Doctor Klein then collapsed in the kitchen of the couple’s home. She was taken to University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Emergency where she was placed in the ICU on life support for three days. She died on April 20.
Investigators at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office soon discovered that her blood draws revealed that she had a lethal amount of cyanide in her system. Pittsburgh detectives immediately looked to Doctor Klein’s husband as a suspect.
Investigators learned that Ferrante had placed an overnight order for potassium cyanide. This was an abnormal thing to do, because – as his lab colleagues swore in their legal depositions – cyanide was not part of any project at the laboratory that year, and he used a credit card that was not normally used for that type of purchase. Evidence showed that Ferrante then laced Klein’s creatine energy drink with the deadly poison.
District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini’s presentation clearly swayed the jury in another matter, when she showed digital proof that Ferrante had done internet searches on his home computer on the subject of cyanide poisoning in the weeks leading up to Klein’s death, and even in the week following her death, well before a lab test and revealed the poison.
Ferrante’s sentence included no chance for parole. Doctor Klein’s family is creating a trust fund for her eight-year-old daughter.
Here is another view of this regrettable case:
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