The trial of a former Northwestern University microbiology professor who, according to prosecutors, stabbed his friend to death with the help of a stranger as part of a sexual fantasy.
A jury was selected Monday in Cook County, Illinois to trial Wyndham Lathem, 47, in the 2017 death of his friend, Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, a 26-year-old hairdresser from Michigan.
Lathem is accused of enlisting Andrew Warren, a finance officer from Oxford University, to fly from England to Chicago to aid him in the murder of Cornell-Duranleau, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
The prosecutor argued in opening statements Monday that Lathem – a wealthy and powerful academic known for his work on the bubonic plague – was abusing a “young man who was just trying to make his way in Chicago.”
Lathem’s lawyer, however, painted a different picture, saying that Warren, who has pleaded guilty to the murder of Cornell-Duranleau, committed a crime against both the defendant and the deceased.
“This was nothing more than an opportunity crime involving two victims,” attorney Kenneth Wine.
Andrew Warren took Trenton Cornell’s life and ruined Dr. Lathem.’
A trial is underway against Wyndham Lathem (left), a former Northwestern University microbiology professor who, according to prosecutors, stabbed his friend to death with the help of Andrew Warren (right), an Oxford University finance officer, as part of a sexual fantasy.
Trenton Cornell-Duranleau (pictured), a 26-year-old hairdresser from Michigan, was stabbed 78 times on July 27, 2017, while sleeping in Lathem’s high-rise condominium in Chicago.
Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed 78 times on July 27, 2017 while sleeping in Lathem’s high-rise apartment in Chicago.
After the murder, Warren and Lathem led police on an eight-day manhunt before being arrested in Northern California.
Wine, who declined to comment on pending lawsuits, provided a copy of his opening statement to DailyMail.com. In the statement, he explained that Lathem and Cornell-Duranleau had a sexual relationship that often involved “three-way sex with people they met online,” as well as “bondage and submission and other sex toys, including knife play.”
The lawyer claims the men had “sexual fantasies involving fetish, shackles, leather bondage and a variety of sex toys,” noting that they would use meth or knife during sex “to increase pleasure.”
Wine claims that on the night of the murder, Warren joined the couple in their bedroom and attacked them. Lathem is said to have gone to the bathroom after being stabbed by Warren and “hearing a fight” in the bedroom.
Andrew Warren will sit in the stands and admit that he hit Trent Cornell on the head with a metal bedroom lamp. The evidence will show that Andrew Warren viciously stabbed Trent Cornell to death with two knives,” Wine said.
The defense alleges that on the night of the murder, Warren joined the couple in their bedroom at the Grand Plaza Apartments in Chicago (pictured) and assaulted them
‘Dr. Lathem was shocked to discover the dead body of his beloved. He didn’t know what to do. He felt responsible for endangering Trent Cornell. He believed—and believes to this day—that he bears responsibility for Trent’s death. After all, it was Dr. Lathem who brought Andrew Warren into their lives.’
Wine went on to say that Warren killed Cornell-Duranleau because he was jealous of the couple’s relationship.
“The evidence will show that Andrew Warren Dr. Lathem has told that he – Andrew Warren – killed Trent Cornell so they could be together,” he said.
Wine says the “evidence will show Andrew Warren brutally stabbed Trent Cornell (pictured) to death with two knives” because he was jealous of the 26-year-old’s relationship with Lathem
However, the prosecution says the evidence that Lathem (pictured) orchestrated and took the lead in the murder is “clear and overwhelming.”
‘Andrew Warren, who had been treated by Dr. Lathem had been told that Dr. Lathem had no romantic interest in him, Trent killed Cornell out of the most common of human emotions – jealousy, but it was more than just jealousy, it was the jealous rage of a murderous psychopath. Andrew Warren had motive and a perfect alibi. dr. Lathem had no motive.’
However, assistant state attorney Matthew Thrun argued that Lathem and Warren had devised the murder plan together as part of a fantasy that was supposed to end with killing each other.
“This defendant may have shown one face to the world – a respectable, prestigious doctor, but Trenton saw a different face,” Thrun said in court on Monday. WTTW.
The prosecutor went on to argue that the evidence that Lathem orchestrated and took the lead in the murder is “clear and overwhelming.”
The trial against Lathem is expected to last two weeks, with Warren (pictured) as the key witness. Warren pleaded guilty to murder in 2019 and was sentenced to 45 years in prison as part of a plea deal calling for him to testify against Lathem
“He gave up the crime scene. And when he was on the run, he was behind the wheel… he decided where to go,” he said.
Thrun also claimed that Lathem’s blood was found in the flat and on two knives. He also allegedly confessed to the crime on video.
“He’s going to tell you, ‘I killed him, I did it, it wasn’t an accident, it was a mistake…and I will regret it with every fiber of my being,'” Thrun said, as he quoted the images.
Lathem’s trial resumed on Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks.
Warren, who pleaded guilty to murder in 2019 and was sentenced to 45 years in prison as part of a plea deal calling for him to testify against Lathem, is likely to be a key witness in the case.
Lathem has been in Cook County Jail since he was extradited from California.
Last year, he unsuccessfully tried to persuade a judge to release him on $1 million bail so that his research skills as a microbiologist could be used in the fight against COVID-19.
He is the most prominent defendant on trial in a Chicago courtroom since the personal jury trials resumed in March after a pause due to the pandemic.
DailyMail.com also contacted the Cook County attorney for comment on the case.