Pitt researcher waives hearing in wife's cyanide poisoning death

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A University of Pittsburgh researcher accused of poisoning his wife with cyanide waived his right to a preliminary hearing this morning, a spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office said.

The preliminary hearing for Robert Ferrante, 64, had been set for Oct. 22. DA's office spokesman Mike Manko said a formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 6.

Mr. Ferrante is charged with one count of homicide in the April 20 death of Autumn Klein, a 41-year-old physician with UPMC. Ms. Klein collapsed in the couple's Oakland home the night of April 17 and died three days later at UPMC Presbyterian of cyanide poisoning.

Pittsburgh police wrote in an affidavit of probable cause that Mr. Ferrante asked a colleague to purchase cyanide two days before his wife collapsed and have it sent overnight.

They also wrote that Mr. Ferrante worried his wife might have been having an affair. She told at least one friend two months before her death of her husband's allegations and that she planned to leave him, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Ferrante's attorney, William Difenderfer, declined to comment today, citing a gag order imposed by Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman.

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