PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A scientist from New England has been communicating with a convicted killer about research that the defendant hopes will raise doubts about his guilt.
Former Pitt researcher Robert Ferrante was found guilty in the cyanide death of his wife last year.
The trial that focused on the death of Autumn Klein had plenty of testimony about the lab test that indicated she died of cyanide poisoning, and symptoms she exhibited when she collapsed at home and was rushed to the emergency room at UPMC Presbyterian – the hospital where she worked.
There was testimony about how she took the supplement Creatine to help her conceive, and some testimony about whether that substance might create a false positive for cyanide, but that was not pursued at length during the trial.
However, Massachusetts scientist Dr. Carol Gebert is looking to enter the appeal process arguing that Creatine would have reacted in a key test in this case like cyanide.
Ferrante’s appeals attorney is still investigating whether to include her findings in his appeal.
“In some instances, Creatine can break down to produce cyanogens, cyanide-like products,” said forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. “That is documented. I recall when I did my research for the Ferrante case coming across that.”
Wecht, as a defense witness in that case, says this aspect of the case is not automatically guaranteed to result in a new trial.
“This was not something that was pursued to a great extent,” said Wecht. “So I want to make it clear, I don’t think that just talking about it more would have made a difference but if some further studies had been done and reputable scientists had duplicated Dr. Gebert’s results showing that hey, you can produce cyanide or cyanide like product that can give you a false positive then that might have made a difference.”
The District Attorney’s office had no comment but will likely argue in its responses to appeal motions that the jury, given the evidence presented, found Robert Ferrante guilty of first degree murder.