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Dr Death: Pittsburgh researcher guilty of poisoning wife

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dr Robert Ferrante (centre) is escorted to court by Allegheny County sheriff's deputies during his trial on homicide charges in the 2013 killing of his neurologist wife.-AP

PITTSBURGH (AP):Jurors who convicted a University of Pittsburgh researcher of first-degree murder in the cyanide poisoning death of his wife say they didn't find his explanations believable and were moved by a 911 call.

Dr Robert Ferrante, who hung his head when the verdict was read in court last Friday, faces a mandatory life sentence in the April 2013 death of his wife, 41-year-old neurologist Dr Autumn Klein.

The jury, which deliberated for 15 hours over two days, agreed with Allegheny County prosecutors who accused Ferrante of lacing his wife's creatine energy drink with cyanide he bought through his lab using a university-issued charge card two days before she fell suddenly ill.

The 66-year-old Ferrante denied poisoning his wife. His lawyers made the case that she might not have been poisoned at all, citing three defense experts who said that couldn't be conclusively proved.

Prosecutors said Ferrante was a "master manipulator" who concocted the plan to kill his wife after she pressured him to have a second child and because he may have feared she was having an affair or planned to divorce him.

The key to the prosecution's case was a test on Klein's blood that revealed a lethal level of cyanide. The blood was drawn while doctors at UPMC Presbyterian hospital tried in vain for three days to save her life, though the results weren't known until after she died and her body was cremated.