(PITTSBURGH) — A University of Pittsburgh researcher who allegedly laced his wife’s creatine drink with a lethal dose of cyanide pleaded not guilty Tuesday to criminal homicide.
Dressed in an orange jail uniform and with his hands shackled, Dr. Robert Ferrante, 64, appeared in a Pittsburgh court on Tuesday, one day after he waived extradition from West Virginia, where he was arrested last Thursday.
Ferrante’s attorney, William Difenderfer, said his client was traveling from Florida to turn himself in to police in Pittsburgh when he was pulled over in West Virginia.
“He’s anxious to defend himself, have his day in court and prove his innocence, which I’m quite confident we’ll be able to do,” Difenderfer told ABC News.
Investigators believe Ferrante, who is considered a leading researcher of Lou Gehrig’s disease, killed his wife, Dr. Autumn Klein, 41, by lacing her creatine energy drink with cyanide April 17, the same day the couple exchanged text messages about how a creatine regimen could help them conceive their second child, according to a criminal complaint.
Klein died April 20 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, where she was chief of the division of women’s neurology and an assistant professor of neurology, obstetrics and gynecology.
“According to my calendar I ovulate tomorrow,” Klein wrote in a text message April 17.
Police say Ferrante responded, “Perfect timing. Creatine.”
“Will it stimulate egg production too?” Klein asked in another message.
Ferrante allegedly responded with a smiley face.
Authorities previously acknowledged Klein had cyanide in her blood when she died but did not publicly label her death a homicide until Thursday.
When paramedics responded to Klein’s medical emergency April 17, they saw a glass vial near a resealable, plastic bag holding a white substance, which Ferrante told them was creatine, the criminal complaint said.
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Ray Sanchez, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Jeanne Sahadi, CNN