Wideman Brothers to Publicly Discuss Controversial Homicide Case for First Time

Robert “Faruq” Wideman and his brother, award-winning author John Edgar Wideman, will discuss Robert’s more than 40-year legal battle for freedom for the first time publicly at a special event at Duquesne Feb. 14.

Forensic Fridays Graphic

Along with the man who pulled the trigger, Robert Wideman was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in the 1975 shooting of Nicola Morena, who later died following emergency surgery. The case gained new life in 1983, when Morena’s family settled a malpractice suit against the hospital that treated him.

Wideman sought and was granted a new trial on the grounds that the jury never heard crucial evidence that Morena could have survived had he received proper care. But it wasn’t until July 2019, after seven unsuccessful appeals and 44 years in prison, that Wideman was released on parole.

The Wideman brothers will discuss the case at “From Conviction to Commutation: Revisiting the Robert Wideman Case” from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the Africa Room. John Wideman wrote about the case in his 1984 memoir, Brothers and Keepers.

The event is sponsored by Duquesne’s Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law as part of its Forensic Fridays professional education series and will confer continuing education credit to attorneys, social workers and coroners.

The seminar will explore how Wideman, who was not the shooter, was still sentenced to a life term, the vigorous resistance to his pursuit of a new trial and the role of medical malpractice in his eventual release. Additional speakers include those who were involved in the case, including Judge Jeffrey Manning, the case’s original prosecutor; Wideman’s defense attorney, Mark Schwartz; expert witness Dr. Cyril Wecht; and Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel.

To learn more about or register for the event, which is also available via live video stream, visit the Wecht Institute.