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If former NU professor accused of murder released on bond, ‘friend-of-a-friend’ will monitor him, lawyers say

Denied bail once before, Wyndham Latham, an infectious disease expert, is again seeking to be released from jail so he can help battle COVID-19.

Wyndham Lathem
Wyndham Lathem
Cook County sheriff’s office

Lawyers for a former Northwestern University microbiologist accused of murdering his boyfriend again argued for his release Thursday so the renowned infectious disease expert can assist in the battle against the coronavirus.

Cook County Judge Charles Burns, last month, denied Wyndham Lathem’s request to be released on $1 million bail.

But this time in his bid to be let out of Cook County Jail, Lathem’s attorneys suggested their client be released on $1.5 million bail.

They also assured the judge that if the 45-year-old is released, a third-party custodian would rent an apartment for Lathem and check in with him multiple times a day while he helps in curbing the pandemic.

Defense attorney Adam Sheppard said the third-party custodian is a “friend-of-a-friend.” He stressed to the judge that the person is someone who has “never hung out with [Lathem] individually.”

While the man “isn’t somebody who’s in the bag for Dr. Lathem,” he “believes in Dr. Lathem’s ability and character to comply with the conditions of bond,” Sheppard said.

Lathem would reimburse the individual for the apartment and support himself from funds withdrawn in a trust under his name. When Burns asked how much money was in the trust, Sheppard replied, “It’s not a shocking number” and that he would use some of his remaining savings to post bond.

The amount Lathem had in the trust was not read out loud after Burns said he was concerned — with reporters watching the court hearing via videoconference — that “this will be the first or second sentence on every single story, particularly [for] Dr. Lathem, a trust-fund child.”

Prosecutors said Lathem, who made a videotaped confession to his boyfriend’s 2017 murder, demonstrated he is a significant flight risk when he and his cohort led authorities on a manhunt across the country.

“We have a tremendous amount of evidence the defendant committed one of the most brutal, heinous, cold and calculated crimes in the city of Chicago in that particular year,” Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Engebretson said.

Burns did not rule on Lathem’s motion and asked the parties to come back to court on June 12.

Lathem and Andrew Warren, a former clerk at Oxford College, are accused of murdering 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau as he lay sleeping in Lathem’s River North apartment.

Warren agreed last year to testify against Lathem in exchange for a 45-year prison sentence.

Lathem, who has been held without bail since his arrest, faces a potential life sentence if convicted.