Pittsburgh Researcher Poisoned Wife

Tucker Hill, Staff Writer

Dr. Robert Ferrante, a medical researcher at the University of Pittsburgh was sentenced to a mandatory sentence of life in prison on Friday, November 7, 2014. His investigation was because of the mysterious death of his wife, Dr. Autumn Klein, in April of 2013. The investigation shows that Ferrante laced her drink with a very lethal dose of cyanide.

Juror Helen Ewing said that she was horrified by the suffering of Dr. Klein heard on the 911 call Ferrante made while his wife was groaning, moaning and gasping for air in the background. She said, “I think he had incredible coaches. I think he had a year to think about what story he wanted to tell.” The jury deliberated for fifteen hours over two days. They agreed with the Allegheny County prosecutors. They accused him of lacing his wife’s creatine energy drink with cyanide that he bought through his lab using a university-issued charge card only two days before she suddenly fell sick. Ferrante denied poisoning his wife. He said that the cyanide that he bought was for stem cell experiments that he was doing for Lou Gehrig’s disease. The toxin can be used to kill neurological cells, so that they can simulate this disease in a lab.

The Klein family is devastated by the news of the poisoning, but they are also happy about Ferrante’s sentence. They issued a statement through the D.A. office saying, “While we are pleased that the person responsible for Autumn’s death has been brought to justice, nothing will ever fill the emptiness that we feel in our family and in our hearts.”

The whole reason that Ferrante poisoned his wife was because she was pressuring him to have a second child that he didn’t want to have. He feared that she was having an affair or planned to divorce him. The prosecutors said that he was a “master manipulator” who planned the whole thing because of this. According to ABC News, the key to the prosecution’s case was a test on Klein’s blood that revealed a lethal level of cyanide in her blood. Her blood was drawn while doctors at UPMC Presbyterian hospital tried for three days to save her life. The jurors said that the level of cyanide in Klein’s blood was the most reliable test of evidence.

Ferrante was sentenced to life in prison. His prosecutors denied the death penalty. They said, “We found no aggravation circumstances that would have made the killing a capital offense.”072613_homicide_1028