Former Northwestern prof. Wyndham Lathem, accused of murder, faces testimony from co-defendant who accepted plea agreement

Wyndham Lathem.

Source: Chicago Police Department

Wyndham Lathem.

Alan Perez, Reporter

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Former Feinberg Professor Wyndham Lathem, who faces charges for allegedly killing his boyfriend in a premeditated murder-sex fantasy, plans to defend his innocence despite a plea agreement prosecutors struck with his co-defendant.

If the trial in Chicago continues, Lathem could face potentially damning testimony for his alleged role in the 2017 murder of 26-year old hairdresser Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau. After Cook County Circuit Court Judge Charles Burns made the plea agreement public, lawyers for Lathem said they looked forward to questioning Andrew Warren, a former Oxford University employee.

“It seems like another co-defendant who’s guilty, shifting blame,” Adam Sheppard told reporters in July after a status hearing for his client at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. “We don’t support (Warren’s) credibility. We take great issue with it. We’re looking forward to cross-examining him at trial.”

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Warren would be sentenced to 45 years in exchange for his cooperation.

Lathem and Warren were indicted in September 2017 on charges of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Lathem and former Oxford University employee Andrew Warren killed 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, who was Lathem’s boyfriend at the time, as part of a premeditated murder-sex fantasy.

An autopsy report showed Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed more than 40 times. He was found in the kitchen of Lathem’s apartment, lying face down and dead from stab wounds to his back.

Lathem was fired from Northwestern soon after he fled the Chicago area, which led law enforcement officials on a nationwide manhunt. In an unusual development, Lathem made a stop during the chase to record a video expressing regret for the crime and for betraying Cornell-Duranleau’s trust. He called it the “biggest mistake of my life,” and made a $1,000 donation in Cornell-Duranleau’s name to the Lake Geneva Public Library in Wisconsin.

The hunt ended in California, when Lathem dropped Warren off at a police station in San Francisco before turning himself to police in Oakland, after which police extradited Lathem to Chicago.

During the hearing in July, Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Engebretson read a statement from the agreement, in which Warren admits he and Lathem discussed the murder for weeks before Warren arrived in Chicago.

Lathem is reportedly teaching fellow prison inmates in an unofficial role while he awaits trial. Sheppard, his lawyer, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he explains biology, science and politics during the limited outdoor time every day.

“He is a brilliant microbiologist, who is now being treated for depression,” Sheppard told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Both his parents died during his incarceration. He continues to persist in his not guilty plea and that his co-defendant is literally to blame.”

Lathem’s trial awaits scheduling.

Email: aperez@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @_perezalan_

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