Ex-Medical Researcher Loses Appeal In Wife's Cyanide Death

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A judge has rejected the lone appeal issue remaining for a former University of Pittsburgh medical researcher convicted in what prosecutors said was the cyanide poisoning death of his wife almost a decade ago.

Robert Ferrante, 73, is serving a life term without possibility of parole following his murder conviction in the death of 41-year-old Dr. Autumn Klein, who collapsed at the couple’s Schenley Farms home in April 2013 and died three days later.

Authorities said blood tests later confirmed that Klein, a women's neurologist at UPMC Presbyterian, died from cyanide poisoning. Allegheny County prosecutors alleged that Ferrante put cyanide in her energy drink, which text messages show he urged her to drink to enhance her fertility. Ferrante acknowledged ordering cyanide in the weeks before Klein’s death but said that was related to his well-known research into Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Almost three years ago, a judge dismissed most of Ferrante's appeal arguments but said he had grounds for a hearing on whether his previous attorneys erred in withdrawing a request to have his case heard by a jury chosen from another county.

The Tribune-Review reports that Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Bruce Beemer ruled Thursday that Ferrante had failed to show that a former attorney had no basis to drop the bid for an outside jury and that the decision prejudiced the case. He also declined to reconsider other appeal arguments rejected by another judge.