8 men, 4 women, picked as jurors in researcher's trial for killing his wife with cyanide

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PITTSBURGH — Lawyers in the trial of a University of Pittsburgh medical researcher charged with killing his neurologist wife with cyanide have picked eight men and four women to serve as the jury.

Allegheny County prosecutors and attorneys for Dr. Robert Ferrante, 65, are expected to complete the jury panel Wednesday by choosing four alternate jurors.

Opening statements in the trial, which is expected to last more than two weeks, are set for Thursday.

Ferrante is charged with criminal homicide for allegedly lacing an energy drink with cyanide to kill 41-year-old Dr. Autumn Klein in April 2013 after telling her the drink would help them conceive another child. Their daughter, Cianna, was 6 when her mother fell suddenly ill and died three days later.

Ferrante has denied the allegations and said he was devastated by her sudden death. But authorities contend he bought the poison with his University of Pittsburgh credit card two days before his wife fell ill, and that someone used his computer to research whether treatments his wife received after falling ill would have removed the toxin from her system.

Defense attorneys William Difenderfer and Wendy Williams had sought an out-of-county jury based on pretrial publicity. Although county Judge Jeffrey Manning granted their request, the defense decided without explanation a few weeks ago to pick a jury locally.

A court-imposed gag order prevents the attorneys and witnesses from commenting until after a verdict.

Several potential jurors said they had heard about the case in the media, but only three said they remembered enough to form strong opinions. All were rejected by the judge.

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