Lawyer for Pitt researcher accused in cyanide death asks to loosen no-contact order

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The attorney for a University of Pittsburgh researcher accused of poisoning his wife has asked the court to allow his adult children to be permitted to visit with his young daughter.

Robert Ferrante, 65, is accused of killing his wife, Autumn Klein, 41, with cyanide in April.

According to the motion filed by William Difenderfer, a no-contact order was issued early in the case, prohibiting Mr. Ferrante and his adult children from having contact with his youngest daughter, who was 6 years old at the time of Klein's death.

Mr. Difenderfer said in his filing that his client's older children, Kimberly and Michael Ferrante, have always maintained a close relationship with the girl, and that they would like to resume visiting with her.

"[The] child wishes to see her siblings," the attorney wrote.

Further, Mr. Difenderfer said, the girl was asleep at the time Klein collapsed in her Oakland home on April 17, and "is not a material witness to any events on that evening."

Kimberly Ferrante, a physician, lives in San Diego, while her brother, a certified financial advisor, lives in Wellesley, Mass.

Mr. Difenderfer, on Wednesday, also filed a motion requesting that additional funds currently frozen in Mr. Ferrante's bank accounts be released to assist with his defense.

A hearing on the defense motions will be held Friday at 11 a.m. before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

"It is anticipated that the defense of this matter will be very complex," he wrote. "The commonwealth has two attorneys and their entire office and support staff available and at their disposal to work on this case, as well as a budget that allows them to hire experts and investigators without prior court approval.

"Defendant should not have to seek court release/approval of his own funds for the use in his defense," Mr. Difenderfer wrote.

Mr. Difenderfer noted that his client would not be using funds belonging to Klein.

According to the prosecution, the couple held joint accounts totaling just under $900,000, while Mr. Ferrante's individual accounts totaled about $2.5 million.

At a hearing in August, Mr. Difenderfer requested that one account, with about $280,000 in it, be made available to pay for the defense.


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