PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The four-woman, eight-man jury in the Robert Ferrante trial has been sequestered for the night following the first day of deliberations, which lasted about six hours.
Jurors asked to see the transcript of the 911 call that Ferrante made the night his wife collapsed back in April of 2013.
Instead, Judge Jeffrey Manning allowed them to listen to the 12-minute 911 call and follow along with the transcript.
Later in the day, jurors had a second question; they wanted to see the transcript of testimony made by one of Ferrante’s research assistants.
The judge refused that request, saying jurors had to rely on their memories of what was said by the witness, and the notes they took during the trial.
Attorney Phil DiLucente, who is not associated with the Ferrante trial, said the judge made the right calls.
DiLucente told KDKA-TV News, “The evidence of the memorialized transcript was not evidence, the 911 call was the evidence, not the transcript.”
“Where does it end? If you ask for a re-reading of every piece of testimony, the whole trial will go for another three weeks possibly,” DiLucente added.
Jurors are scheduled to resume deliberations about 9 o’clock Friday morning.
Earlier in the day, defense attorney William Difenderfer’s closing argument lasted for more than an hour.
“The case is about whether my client intentionally murdered his wife,” Difenderfer said.
He also said the case is not about the tragic death of Autumn Klein.
“We don’t decide cases on emotion or on fear or on what we want to believe,” Difenderfer said. “She was the love of his life. She still is.”
One point of emphasis for the prosecution during the trial was the Google search results on Ferrante’s computer.
The prosecution said his Google searches sought answers to whether certain medical procedures would erase traces of poisons and how to erase web searches on a computer.
“You could look up my Google searches and see something about the Kardashians and a prosecutor could say, ‘He’s stalking them.’ You can’t base this on headlines. You have to base it on evidence,” Difenderfer said.
He explained that Ferrante looked up divorces in Pennsylvania on the Internet because he was concerned about troubles in his marriage and was originally from Massachusetts.
Regarding other searches about cyanide and medical effects of certain hospital tests, “His nature is to look it up and find out everything he can about it.”
On Wednesday, former Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Cyril Wecht took the stand.
Dr. Wecht testified that the cause and manner of death, as reported by the current medical examiner, should not have been reported as a cyanide poisoning and a homicide.
He says both cause and manner should be listed as “undetermined.”
Difenderfer said the prosecution didn’t challenge Dr. Wecht much because, “[Dr. Wecht] was right.”
“When you’re deliberating, I want you to ask yourself, ‘What if Dr. Wecht is right?'” Difenderfer said.
Prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini rejected the defense’s argument and told the jury in her closing argument, referring to Ferrante, “It all just has to be a coincidence. He’s either the unluckiest man in the world, or he’s guilty. That’s what makes this crime so diabolical. He’s a master manipulator.”
Pellegrini used a PowerPoint she called “The Road to Murder,” detailing the web searches and emails that led to the night Klein collapsed.
Referring to his testimony in his own defense on Wednesday, she said, “As he was describing his wife collapsing, did you see a tear? Did he act like a grieving husband? No, because he’s a master manipulator.”
“He was just one blood test away from getting away with the perfect murder,” she added.
Referring to their planned trip to the Nemacolin Resort in Fayette County, for which he did a Google search of hospitals in the area, she said, “If he had poisoned her at Nemacolin, she would have died before the medics came.”
Pellegrini argued that hospitals in that area are farther away and not of the caliber of UPMC Presbyterian.
“He picked the perfect murder weapon. He gave her that drink, she collapsed and he stood over her and watched her suffer. He wanted her dead, dead, dead,” she said.
She argued that his jealousy over a colleague of hers was his motive.
“He thought, ‘If I can’t have you, nobody can,'” she said.
Ferrante testified on Wednesday that he ordered cyanide only for his research, and that his Internet searches were also related to that research, as well as trying to find answers about his wife’s death.
“There are difficulties with previous toxins for my stem cell research, and I believed that cyanide was better for a number of reasons,” he said. “I wanted to know more about cyanide for my research.”
His lawyer asked, “If you had intent to kill your wife with cyanide, wasn’t that already in the lab?”
“Yes, it was,” replied Ferrante.
Lawyer: “Did you mix creatine solution for her that night?”
“No,” replied Ferrante.
He also described the night she collapsed.
“She gave me a kiss and said, ‘Hi hon, love you.’ She gave me a peck on the cheek and fell to the floor,” said Ferrante. “She said, ‘I feel like when this happened the last time in church.’”
Ferrante said his wife had a fainting spell in church at one time.
Ferrante and his defense attorneys contend they believe Klein may have been stricken by a cardiac arrhythmia or some kind of brain abnormality relating to headaches and fainting spells she had suffered in the previous months. They’ve attempted to cast doubt on a lab test that found a fatal level of the poison in her blood by noting other blood tests either weren’t completed, or found cyanide metabolites at non-lethal levels, which is common in human beings.
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