A University of Pittsburgh researcher accused of poisoning his wife with cyanide waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday 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. A formal arraignment is now 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. Klein collapsed in the couple's Oakland home the night of April 17.
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 Friday, citing a gag order imposed by Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman.
"Obviously, you can't know for sure why he did this," said Pitt law professor John Burkoff. "It's unusual to waive it, but there are a number of possibilities."
Defense attorneys might choose to waive a preliminary hearing because they believe probable cause exists in their case, because they don't believe they can gain more knowledge about what evidence the prosecution has or to help their client avoid further negative media attention, Mr. Burkoff said.
Occasionally, he said, a waiver could be an indication that both sides are in the process of negotiating a plea deal.
Liz Navratil: email@example.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.