Former Feinberg Prof. denied release from jail to help with COVID-19 research


Daily file photo by Erica Snow

The Cook County Criminal Courts Administration Building, next to the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. Lathem has pleaded not guilty to charges that he and former Oxford University employee Andrew Warren stabbed Trenton Cornell-Duranleau to death.

Daisy Conant, Assistant Campus Editor

Former Feinberg School of Medicine professor Wyndham Lathem, who faces charges for allegedly killing his boyfriend in a premeditated murder-sex fantasy, was denied a request to be released from prison so his research skills can be used to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Lathem asked a judge last week to free him on $1 million bail from Cook County Jail, which has one of the nation’s most aggressive outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

Lathem’s motion included an email from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine Prof. William Goldman, who stated that Lathem is “well-suited to advise and participate in studies aimed at understanding SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.” It also cited health conditions that will put him at greater risk if he contracts COVID-19.

“It would make sense to take advantage of as many experts as possible during this worldwide crisis that is rapidly expanding in scope,” Goldman’s email stated.

Judge Charles Burns rebuffed the request at an emergency hearing Friday, conducted over teleconference, according to the Sun-Times.

Lathem, a microbiologist, gained renown for his research on the bubonic plague. He served as an associate professor of microbiology-immunology at Feinberg on the Chicago Campus from 2007 until 2017, when he was fired after his arrest.

Before his arrest, Lathem had been granted clearance for lab access to some of the world’s deadliest pathogens by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and volunteered with researchers helping Madagascar deal with an outbreak of the bubonic plague. He also served as chair of the American Society for Microbiology Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research gathering, Lathem’s attorney told the Sun-Times.

Lathem is awaiting trial on charges that he and former Oxford University employee Andrew Warren allegedly stabbed 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, Lathem’s boyfriend at the time, to death as he lay sleeping in Lathem’s apartment. He has pleaded not guilty.

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