clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Former NU professor accused of murder sobs when watching video of boyfriend’s stabbed body

At one point, a deep cut could be seen on Trenton Cornell-Duranleau’s neck — a wound Chicago police previously said nearly decapitated the young man.

Trenton Cornell, who was found dead in River North condo July 27, 2017.
Trenton Cornell, who was found dead in River North condo July 27, 2017.

Wyndham Lathem first cried quietly and covered his eyes with his hands when Cook County jurors Tuesday were shown video footage of the crime scene at his River North condo.

But when the camera focused on the body of his boyfriend, 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, Lathem let out an audible sob.

At one point, a deep cut could be seen on Cornell-Duranleau’s neck — a wound Chicago police previously said nearly decapitated the young man.

Lathem, a former Northwestern University professor, is accused of killing Cornell-Duranleau with Andrew Warren, a British national and former staff member at Oxford University who allegedly traveled to Chicago right before the fatal 2017 stabbing.

Warren, who pleaded guilty to murder charges in 2019 and was sentenced to 45 years in prison as part of a plea agreement, is expected to testify against Lathem later during the trial.

Earlier Tuesday, Cornell-Duranleau’s roommate took the stand, recalling how he gave Cornell-Duranleau his bus pass a day before he was found dead.

Carl Mash, 44, said he kept texting Cornell-Duranleau, reminding him that he needed the bus pass back to get to and from work. But when he didn’t hear from Cornell-Duranleau, Mash texted Lathem so he could pass along the message. Lathem didn’t respond either.

Eventually the front desk staff at Lathem’s building called police for a wellbeing check after someone called and said a crime may have been committed at Lathem’s condo before hanging up, a doorman and police officer also testified Tuesday.

The doorman who had been working a nightshift that evening said another resident reported hearing screams, but said that a maintenance staff member called to investigate didn’t hear anything.

Officer Mark Beam, who found Cornell-Duranleau on July 27, 2017, said he noted numerous “stab marks” on his body.

“The amount of blood,” Beam said led him to believe Cornell-Duranleau was already dead. “It was just a large amount of blood on the floor,” Beam said.

Wyndham Lathem, left, and Andrew Warren in a booking photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Wyndham Lathem, left, and Andrew Warren in a booking photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
AP

In opening statements Monday, Lathem’s defense attorneys acknowledged that Lathem and Cornell-Duranleau’s relationship included knife play, and said the two would get high on meth to heighten their sexual pleasure.

On Tuesday defense attorney Adam Sheppard asked Mash if he had ever given drugs to Cornell-Duranleau. Mash admitted he did once.

“Were you a meth dealer?” Sheppard asked. “No,” Mash responded during cross examination.

A bag of “crystal-like” substance, straws, syringes and a napkin with the words “Candy 4 Andy” were recovered from Lathem’s apartment, said Sergio Glowacki, a police evidence technician.

Also recovered was a drywall knife and two other bloody kitchen knives, Glowacki said. One knife was broken in two pieces: part of the blade with the handle was left in a kitchen trash can and a broken blade point was found near Cornell-Duranleau’s head, the video showed.

On the same day Cornell-Duranleau’s body was found, Lathem came to City Suites Hotel, at 933 W. Belmont Ave., and told Juan Solano at the front desk that his ID was stolen at O’Hare Airport.

When Solano said he told Lathem anyone booking a room needed to show ID, Lathem returned with Warren’s passport and used it to book a room. Warren was sitting in the hotel lobby at the time.

“Look at him sitting like the boss,” defense attorney Barry Sheppard said, pointing to video footage that showed Warren in the lobby.

Lathem “is doing what seems to be [Warren’s] bidding, right?” Barry Sheppard added.

Lathem’s defense team has argued that Warren killed Cornell-Duranleau out of jealously after Lathem broke up with Warren.

When a receptionist at the Howard Brown Health Center took the stand Tuesday, Barry Sheppard asked her if Lathem seemed suspicious when he came in to donate $5,610 in memory of Cornell-Duranleau.

“No,” Emma Santiago said.

Barry Sheppard said it appeared that Lathem, now 47, was just trying to do a good deed.

The trial resumes before Judge Charles Burns Wednesday.