CHICAGO - A former Northwestern University professor accused of stabbing his boyfriend to death in what prosecutors allege was a part of a "sexual fantasy" was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder.
Jurors in Cook County deliberated less than two hours before returning the guilty verdict against Wyndham Lathem, 47, a renowned microbiologist whom Northwestern fired after he fled the Chicago area following the killing.
During nine days of testimony, prosecutors described Lathem as a coldblooded killer who stabbed defenseless 26-year-old Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau. Defense attorneys argued their client was a bystander framed by the actual killer, alleged co-conspirator Andrew Warren, a British national who pleaded guilty to his role in the slaying.
Jurors were sent back to deliberate around 3:30 p.m. Thursday after a few hours of closing arguments and reached their decision about 5:15 p.m.
Prosecutors say Lathem and Warren spent months planning to commit multiple murders, then to kill each other. On July 27, 2017, the pair teamed up to murder Cornell-Duranleau inside Lathem’s River North apartment, stabbing him a total of 70 times, with such force one of the knives broke.
Wyndham Lathem (left) and Andrew Warren
Shortly thereafter, an arrest warrant was issued for Lathem and Warren, who ultimately surrendered to authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area, according Chicago Police's Brendan Deenihan.
The discovery of Cornell-Duranleau’s body was prompted by an anonymous phone call. Deenihan said Lathem made that call while in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Deenihan said Lathem picked up Warren, whom he met through the internet, from O’Hare Airport several days before the murder. Warren — in the United States for the first time — was with Lathem when the call from Wisconsin was made.
The two fled Chicago after Cornell-Duranleau was killed and drove a rental car to the Lake Geneva library where they made a $1,000 donation in Cornell-Duranleau’s name before fleeing to California, where Lathem has close friends and family.
More than 30 people wrote letters of support for Lathem after his arrest.
Associated Press contributed to this report.