PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A defense attorney says a University of Pittsburgh medical researcher plans to waive extradition on charges of having fatally poisoned his neurologist wife with cyanide.
Attorney William Difenderfer says 64-year-old Dr. Robert Ferrante plans to waive extradition at a hearing Monday in West Virginia, where he was taken into custody Thursday night.
Difenderfer told reporters Friday that his client wasn’t trying to flee charges in the death of 41-year-old UPMC neurologist Autumn Marie Klein when he left Florida and began driving north.
He said Ferrante was “on his way to turn himself in.”
State police in West Virginia were able to track down and arrest Ferrante with the use of license plate reading technology. Troopers set up patrols near a toll plaza and when Ferrante passed through, they stopped traffic.
Troopers pulled Ferrante over for a traffic stop and he was then taken into custody without incident, police said.
The system automatically captures license plate numbers and compares them to a database through a processor in the trunk, making it easy to track down suspects.
Ferrente was taken into custody around 7 p.m. Thursday along Interstate 77 in Beckley, W. Va.
Klein died April 20 after suddenly falling ill, and prosecutors say blood tests revealed a lethal level of cyanide. They allege that Ferrante had purchased more than a half-pound of cyanide two days before his wife’s illness.
“If I go out and I buy cyanide, does that mean I’m going to kill my wife?” attorney Blaine Jones asked.
Jones is a defense attorney, but isn’t representing Ferrante. But he says he agrees with the way Ferrante’s attorney Bill Difenderfer is classifying the case: as a circumstantial one.
“How do you connect those dots?” Jones asked. “How do they say this man, Mr. Ferrante, administered this dosage to his wife?”
Jones says it will be a fascinating case to follow and urges the public to remember our legal system gives people innocence until proven guilty.
“My fear is that Mr. Ferrante is being tried in the court of public opinion and he’s being found guilty before the court of law which is not fair,” Jones said.
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