Jurors begin deliberating over the fate of the former NU professor who is accused of murdering his friend
The Cook County jury began deliberating Thursday on the fate of Wyndham Lathem, the former Northwestern University microbiologist who was accused of brutally stabbing his friend at his River North apartment.
Lathem’s attorneys told the jury in their closing statement that the verdict would depend on which of the two men they believed more: Lathem or his alleged co-conspirator, Andrew Warren, a British national who pleaded guilty to his role in the murder of Trenton Cornell- Duranleau on July 27, 2017.
“Here we are four years later trying to find out who did what,” said defense attorney Barry Sheppard, calling Warren a “depressive psychopath” and his client “a respected university professor.”
“It’s kind of a who-made it, folks. Who do you believe? “
Wyndham Lathem, left, and Andrew Warren in a booking photo taken Saturday, August 19, 2017.AP
Warren, 61, testified to prosecutors last week, saying that although he was involved in the murder, the idea of killing Cornell-Duranleau in his sleep was from Lathem.
However, Lathem’s attorneys said it was Warren who made the decision to kill Cornell-Duranleau by stabbing him “in jealous rage” 79 times when the three began engaging in group sex while high on crystal meth was.
Trenton Cornell, who was found dead in River North on July 27, 2017
But prosecutors said it wasn’t just Warren’s testimony; the jury could back up their decision with the “mountain of evidence” against 47-year-old Lathem – specifically, Lathem’s own words in what appears to be a video suicide note he sent his parents when he was with Warren.
“Andrew Warren is not the star witness,” said District Attorney Craig Engebretson. “The main witness, if there is one, is the accused. His own words … his confession. “
Engebretson played the tape back to the jury on Thursday and said Lathem could be clearly heard saying, “I killed him” and “It wasn’t an accident, but it was a mistake.”
Prosecutors also pointed out that Lathem had reset several of his electronic devices that indicated his conversations with Warren and his decision to throw away his cell phone. Lathem’s blood was also found mixed with that of Cornell-Duranleau, 26, on several items around the apartment, including a knife found in the kitchen next to a bloody towel that prosecutors used after shaking hands during the attack had cut.
Lathem said he fled to a bathroom in his apartment after Warren started stabbing Cornell-Duranleau.
Lathem said he felt guilty about bringing Warren into the couple’s lives but admitted that he never sought help after the murder and decided to flee town with Warren.
Warren said when he met Lathem online they were both depressed and signed a suicide pact. But when they didn’t kill each other, Lathem suggested murdering Cornell-Duranleau instead, Warren said during the nine-day trial.