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Former Northwestern professor’s boyfriend was stabbed nearly 80 times: Cook County medical examiner

Trenton Cornell-Duranleau had a pierced spleen, stomach and lungs, a punctured liver and a foot-long wound on his neck that spanned nearly ear-to-ear, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar testified at Wyndham Lathem’s murder trial.

Wyndham Lathem arrives at a police station as he is escorted by Chicago police, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Chicago. Lathem, a Northwestern professor, and Andrew Warren, an Oxford University financial officer, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, a Michigan native who had been working in Chicago. Authorities say Cornell-Duranleau suffered more than 40 stab wounds to his upper body during the July attack in Lathem’s high-rise Chicago condo.
Wyndham Lathem is accused of fatally stabbing Trenton Cornell-Duranleau in July 2017 with the help of a British man who flew to Chicago days before the murder.
AP Photos

Trenton Cornell-Duranleau’s fatal stabbing left him with a punctured liver, spleen, stomach and lungs and a foot-long wound on his neck that spanned nearly ear-to-ear, the Cook County medical examiner testified Monday.

The 26-year-old also suffered more than two dozen stab wounds to his back and some penetrated his chest cavity, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar said, detailing the autopsy that was performed on Cornell-Duranleau after his body was discovered on July 27, 2017, at the River North condo of his boyfriend, Wyndham Lathem.

After the testimonies of Arunkumar, a Chicago police detective and a man who heard a male voice screaming “help me” the night authorities believe Cornell-Duranleau was killed, Cook County prosecutors rested their case against Lathem.

Lathem, 47, is accused of murdering Cornell-Duranleau with the help of Andrew Warren, a British man who flew to Chicago days before the murder.

Arunkumar said Cornell-Duranleau lost so much blood during the attack, there wasn’t any left in his vessels or heart to use in toxicology tests.

Instead, the doctor who performed the autopsy had to extract cavity blood — blood that has pooled inside the body, Arunkumar said. That methodology is often used as a last resort for toxicology tests because cavity blood can be contaminated with other bodily fluids, Arunkumar said, adding that Cornell-Duranleau’s death was ruled a homicide.

Cornell-Duranleau, who was stabbed 79 times and had abrasions on his body, had ethanol/alcohol, methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system when he died, Arunkumar said.

Also testifying for the prosecution Monday was Jacob Mize, who heard “loud banging and some screaming” from his rental unit at the time police said Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed.

Mize, who was in town for work, said he told the front-desk attendant about the noise, which included a male voice yelling for help.

Lathem’s attorneys have maintained it was Warren who killed Cornell-Duranleau in a jealous rage after Lathem rejected Warren’s romantic feelings.

Warren, 61, pleaded guilty to Cornell-Duranleau’s murder in 2019 and testified against Lathem last week.

The defense team’s first witness Monday was James O’Donnell, a pharmacologist who said based on the substances in Cornell-Duranleau’s body, he was not asleep when he was killed as police and prosecutors have maintained.

With the “very, very high level” of methamphetamine in his body, “it would be physiologically impossible for sleep to occur,” O’Donnell concluded.

O’Donnell said he was paid $6,000 to take the stand in Lathem’s defense.

Jeremy Ritzert, who had Lathem as a Ph.D. adviser at Northwestern University, also took the stand for the defense team Monday.

Lathem was “disappointed” that a job offer at a prestigious lab in France “had been taken away,” Ritzert said. But Ritzert also said Lathem was in “good” spirits while he was in the process of reopening his lab in the summer of 2017.

Warren had said when he connected with Lathem online, both men were depressed. The pair planned to kill each other as part of a suicide pact but ended up killing Cornell-Duranleau instead, Warren said.

Killing Cornell-Duranleau was Lathem’s idea, Warren told jurors.