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Northwestern professor to stand trial for boyfriend’s sex fetish murder

The trial is underway for a former Northwestern University microbiology professor who prosecutors said stabbed his boyfriend to death with the help of a stranger as part of a sexual fantasy.

A jury was selected in Cook County, Illinois on Monday for the trial of Wyndham Lathem, 47, in the 2017 death of his boyfriend, Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, a 26-year-old hairdresser from Michigan.

Lathem is accused of enlisting Andrew Warren, an Oxford University financial officer, to fly from England to Chicago to help him kill Cornell-Duranleau, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

The prosecution, during opening statements Monday, argued that Lathem — a wealthy and powerful academic known for his work on the bubonic plague — took advantage of a ‘young man just trying to make his way in Chicago.’

However, Lathem’s attorney painted a different picture, saying that Warren, who has pleaded guilty in Cornell-Duranleau’s murder, committed a crime against both the defendant and the deceased.

‘This was nothing more than a crime of opportunity that had two victims,’ defense attorney Kenneth Wine.

‘Andrew Warren took the life of Trenton Cornell and ruined the life of Dr. Lathem.’ 

Lathem is accused of enlisting Andrew Warren (pictured), an Oxford University financial officer, to fly from England to Chicago to help him kill Trenton Cornell-Duranleau

Trial is underway for Wyndham Lathem (left), a former Northwestern University microbiology professor who prosecutors said stabbed his boyfriend to death with the help of a Andrew Warren (right), an Oxford University financial officer, as part of a sexual fantasy

Trenton Cornell-Duranleau (pictured), a 26-year-old hairdresser from Michigan, was stabbed 78 times while he slept in Lathem's Chicago high-rise condominium on July 27, 2017

Trenton Cornell-Duranleau (pictured), a 26-year-old hairdresser from Michigan, was stabbed 78 times while he slept in Lathem’s Chicago high-rise condominium on July 27, 2017

Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed 78 times while he slept in Lathem’s Chicago high-rise condominium on July 27, 2017. 

After the killing, Warren and Lathem led police on an eight-day manhunt before they were arrested in Northern California.

Wine, declining to comment on pending litigation, 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 attorney claims the men ‘had sexual fantasies involving involving fetish, restraints, leather bondage, and a variety of sex toys,’ noting that they would use meth or knife play during sex ‘to heighten the pleasure’.

Wine claims that Warren joined the couple in their bedroom the night of the murder and attacked them. Lathem allegedly went to the bathroom after having been stabbed by Warren and ‘heard fighting going on’ in the bedroom.

‘Andrew Warren will get on the stand and admit he smashed Trent Cornell over the head with metal bedroom lamp. The evidence will show that Andrew Warren viciously stabbed Trent Cornell to death with two knives,’ Wine said.

The defense claims that Warren joined the couple in their bedroom at the Grand Plaza Apartments in Chicago (pictured) the night of the murder and attacked them

The defense claims that Warren joined the couple in their bedroom at the Grand Plaza Apartments in Chicago (pictured) the night of the murder and attacked them

‘Dr. Lathem was shocked to discovery his lover’s dead body. He was at a loss as to what to do. He felt responsible for putting Trent Cornell in harm’s way. He believed – and still believes to this day – he bears responsibility for Trent’s death. It was Dr. Lathem, after all, who brought Andrew Warren into their lives.’

Wine continued, saying that Warren killed Cornell-Duranleau because he was jealous of the couple’s relationship. 

‘The evidence will show that Andrew Warren told Dr. Lathem that he – Andrew Warren – killed Trent Cornell so they could be together,’ he said.

Wine argues the 'evidence will show that Andrew Warren viciously stabbed Trent Cornell (pictured) to death with two knives' because he was jealous of the 26-year-old's relationship with Lathem

Wine argues the ‘evidence will show that Andrew Warren viciously 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 argues that the evidence that Lathem (pictured) orchestrated and took the lead in the murder is 'clear and overwhelming'

However, the prosecution argues that the evidence that Lathem (pictured) orchestrated and took the lead in the murder is ‘clear and overwhelming’

‘Andrew Warren, who had just been told by Dr. Lathem the night before that Dr. Lathem had no romantic interest in him, killed Trent Cornell out of the most common of human emotions – jealousy, but it was more than mere jealousy, it was a jealous rage of a murderous psychopath. Andrew Warren had a motive and a perfect alibi. Dr. Lathem had no motive.’

However, Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Thrun argued that Lathem and Warren devised the murder plan together as part of a fantasy that was supposed to end with them killing each other.

‘This defendant may have shown one face to the world — respectable, prestigious doctor, but Trenton saw another face,’ Thrun said in court on Monday, according to WTTW.

The prosecutor continued, arguing that the evidence that Lathem orchestrated and took the lead in the murder is ‘clear and overwhelming’.

Lathem's trial is expected to last two weeks, with Warren (pictured) serving as a key witness. Warren pleaded guilty to murder in 2019 and was sentenced to 45 years in prison as part of a plea agreement that calls for him to testify against Lathem

Lathem’s trial is expected to last two weeks, with Warren (pictured) serving as a key witness. Warren pleaded guilty to murder in 2019 and was sentenced to 45 years in prison as part of a plea agreement that calls for him to testify against Lathem

‘He provided the crime location. And when he was on the run, he was behind the wheel… he decided where to go,’ he said. 

Thrun also argued that Lathem’s blood was found in the condo and on two knives. He also allegedly confessed to the crime on video.

‘He’s going to tell you, “I killed him, I did do it, it wasn’t an accident, it was a mistake … and I will regret it with every fiber of my being,”‘ Thrun said, quoting the footage. 

Lathem’s trial resumed 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 agreement that calls for him to testify against Lathem, will likely be a key witness in the case.

Lathem has been in Cook County Jail since he was extradited from California.

Last year, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade a judge to release him on $1 million bail so that his research skills as a microbiologist could be used to battle COVID-19. 

He is the highest profile defendant to stand trial in a Chicago courtroom since in-person jury trials resumed in March following a break because of the pandemic. 

DailyMail.com also contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney for comment on the case.


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