Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Calls Neighbors, Colleagues to Testify in Ferrante Homicide Trial

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Calls Neighbors, Colleagues to Testify in Ferrante Homicide Trial

Article excerpt

Autumn Klein and Robert Ferrante, just back from a family vacation to Puerto Rico, shared Easter dinner at their neighbor's house last year.

"We all noticed when they walked into the foyer - they kissed," said Michael Friday, whose backyard led up to the couple's driveway. "It was unusual. It struck us."

Less than three weeks later, on April 17, 2013, Dr. Klein collapsed at the couple's Oakland home. She died three days later.

Police said Dr. Klein died from cyanide poisoning, and that her husband spiked a drink with the toxin to kill her.

Mr. Ferrante's trial on one count of criminal homicide began Oct. 23. The prosecution rested Monday, and Mr. Friday was called by the defense Tuesday to serve as a character witness for Mr. Ferrante.

Mr. Friday testified that his children were about the same age as Dr. Klein's and Mr. Ferrante's daughter, and that they often played together. Mr. Friday said the little girl was often home with her father in the evenings.

"They seemed like a loving couple to us," he said. "To us, there was a lot of mutual respect and admiration."

Defense attorney William Difenderfer asked Mr. Friday if he was aware of Mr. Ferrante's reputation in the community as being a peaceful and law-abiding person.

"He's law-abiding, peaceful. He's a good neighbor and a devoted family person," Mr. Friday said.

Another character witness called before Mr. Friday had a much tougher time responding to defense questions.

Alida Merlo, another neighbor of the couple, was unable to answer defense attorney Wendy Williams' questions about whether Mr. Ferrante had a reputation for nonviolence.

"I didn't discuss that aspect with people in the neighborhood," Ms. Merlo said. "I have no experience with his involvement in violence."

Ms. Merlo was one of several defense witnesses Tuesday whose testimony may not have gone exactly as Mr. Ferrante's attorneys may have wanted.

Earlier in the day, Lawrence Wechsler, the chair of the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh, testified about Mr. Ferrante's reaction at the hospital the night Dr. Klein collapsed.

While he said that Mr. …

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