The Associated Press reports that an appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man in the cyanide poisoning death of his wife in 2013. A former University of Pittsburgh medical researcher, Robert Ferrante, 69, was convicted of poisoning his wife in 2013 with cyanide in November 2014. His charge was first-degree murder and he is serving a life sentence without parole. His attorneys were asking the court to grant a new trial because of questionable evidence allowed in the case.
His wife and victim, Dr. Autumn Klein, a neurologist, was 41 at the time of her death. Ferrante put the cyanide in her energy drink and prosecutors found text messages encouraging her to drink it for fertility enhancement. She collapsed on April 17, 2013 and died three days later, says the AP.
Defense attorneys argued that Klein’s liver was donated after her death and would not have been harvested had she been poisoned. The appeals court ruled that this evidence was not new and had already been presented in the original trial.
The defense also argued with the court about results from tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics, which found the toxic levels of cyanide in Klein’s blood. However, autopsy results did not find the cyanide in her system. Quest also has a subsidiary that was fined for federal misbranding and settled litigation for millions.
Ferrante had admitted that he ordered cyanide in his lab weeks before Klein’s death, but this was a regular occurrence for his research on Lou Gehrig’s disease, as the poison causes symptoms of the disease in lab rats and other animals.
Ferrante’s attorneys vow to appeal to the state Supreme Court and other lower courts challenging the results from Quest’s lab. They believe the evidence should never have been presented at Ferrante’s trial.
*Photo credit Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette