Attorney for researcher accused of poisoning wife points to different lab results

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Blood samples taken from a UPMC physician who died last year from cyanide poisoning came back with two different results, a defense attorney for Robert Ferrante told a judge Tuesday.

“In a nutshell, the blood results from NMS [Labs] were negative,“ said Wendy Williams during a short hearing on the homicide case. ”The sample was sent to Quest, and we have different results.“

Ms. Williams asked Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning to approve an order seeking Quest Diagnostics’ testing procedures and handling policies.

"We need it to review the testing procedures of Quest because the blood sample as tested for cyanide, when sent by the commonwealth to NMS, was negative for cyanide as a cause of death.“ Ms. Williams continued.

Assistant district attorney Lisa Pellegrini responded, ”That’s incorrect, your honor.“

But the judge cut both of them off and said, ”I don't need to know.“

He told them he did not want to hear the facts of the case but did say he would grant the defense request.

Investigators sent blood samples taken from Autumn Klein to both labs for testing, Ms. Pellegrini said. Prosecutors say Klein died from cyanide poisoning. She collapsed at her Oakland home the night of April 17 and died April 20 at UPMC Presbyterian. According to an affidavit of probable cause in the case, Mr. Ferrante, a neuoresearcher, ordered cyanide for his lab on April 15 and had it shipped overnight.

Neither Ms. Williams nor William Difenderfer, who also represents Mr. Ferrante, would further comment on the blood tests, citing a gag order in the case.

Mr. Ferrante’s trial on one count of criminal homicide is scheduled to begin on Sept. 22. The jury will be picked in Dauphin County because of pretrial publicity.

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