PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A former University of Pittsburgh researcher was sentenced for the death of his wife today.
Lois Klein was helped to the microphone in the courtroom by prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini and asked the prosecutor to read her victim impact statement for her.
She wrote, in part: “[Autumn] was our only child and the light of our lives has now been extinguished. There is no longer peace in our lives. Every day something is different. I certainly don’t want to give [Ferrante] any credit, but he has certainly ruined our lives. All she ever wanted to do was to be able to help people. People all over the world are now losers.”
Klein was referring to her daughter, Dr. Autumn Klein, whose April 2013 death say prosecutors was the result of cyanide, ordered by and administered to her they say by her husband Robert Ferrante.
Ferrante was formally sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for his first-degree murder conviction handed down in November.
One of the jurors who found him guilty, Helen Ewing, came to Wednesday’s sentencing.
“I wanted some closure on the decision I made,” she said. “I still think about it all the time and I think about Autumn’s family, and I think we did the right thing. For me, the question was always – is there enough evidence – not necessarily did he do it or not. That wasn’t enough. So I think that’s what divided people.
“But I was not compelled necessarily by the narrative of the prosecution. To me it was the weight of the evidence that was presented and I don’t buy that it wasn’t sufficient. Of course it was circumstantial, but when we added up all the pieces of it, it was clear,” she said.
Their final verdict was unanimous, but they didn’t start out that way and the defense will argue there wasn’t enough evidence to convict.
“With two not guilty and seven undecided on the first vote, I think it undermines the strength of the Commonwealth’s case and strengthens our arguments for appeal,” said defense attorney Bill Difenderfer.
“It’s a circumstantial case, so any circumstantial case results in a jury having to infer something or inferring that there’s not sufficient circumstantial evidence. I always advise clients that you put everything on the table at the trial because appeals are extremely hard; especially, it’s hard and difficult to overturn a jury verdict,” Difenderfer said.
Meantime, negotiations are underway to create a trust fund from Ferrante’s assets for his now 8-year-old daughter.
“We want to protect her and certainly a trust is the best way to do that,” said Klein family attorney John Gismondi. “It’s one of the reasons that there was some hesitation about asking for restitution because that could impact the ability to create a trust.”