Ex-Northwestern, Oxford Employees Enter Not Guilty Pleas in Fatal Stabbing

Two former university employees charged in the brutal stabbing death of a Chicago hairstylist earlier this summer have pleaded not guilty to a half-dozen murder charges levied against them.

Former Northwestern associate professor Wyndham Lathem, 43, and Oxford financial officer Andrew Warren, 57, each appeared briefly before a Cook County Circuit Court judge on Thursday morning for their scheduled arraignments.

The two men entered not guilty pleas in separate hearings to six counts of first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, who was found stabbed more than 40 times inside Lathem’s River North apartment on July 27.

Reading from the charging documents, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Ursula Walowski noted the state will seek extended sentences on multiple charges against both men because the homicide was allegedly committed “in a cold, calculated and premeditated” manner, and included “exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty.”

Both men face anywhere from 20 years to life in prison if convicted.

During his hearing, Warren told Walowski he is unable to afford a private attorney, and will be represented throughout his case by the public defender’s office.

“Our defense investigation is in its infancy,” Assistant Public Defender Kulmeet Galhotra said. “In the coming weeks and months we will be provided with the evidence in this case through the discovery process.

“Although this case began with a proffer in bond court ... this case will end with a verdict that’s based on competent evidence and the law as it applies to this case.”

Andrew Warren entered not guilty pleas on six first-degree murder charges Thursday. (Courtroom sketch by Thomas Gianni)Andrew Warren entered not guilty pleas on six first-degree murder charges Thursday. (Courtroom sketch by Thomas Gianni)

Galhotra asked the court to begin scheduling separate hearing dates for his client and Lathem, but told media it is “too early to say” whether they men will be tried together or separately.

Lathem’s attorney Barry Sheppard told Chicago Tonight he has just begun receiving discovery from the state, saying, “We’re looking forward to reviewing it and digesting it and we’ll be more familiar as we do.”

Lathem appeared Thursday in a beige Department of Corrections jumpsuit, sporting a crew cut, glasses and a short beard. Warren wore a bright yellow jumpsuit. The men spoke only briefly during their individual hearings, responding to questions from Walowski.

Prosecutors have claimed the suspects carried out a “sexual fantasy” in killing Cornell-Duranleau, saying Lathem and Warren had been communicating for months through an online chat room leading up to the killing. The two men allegedly fled the state following the murder, turning themselves in to California authorities nine days later.

Wyndham Lathem stands with his attorneys in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday. (Courtroom sketch by Thomas Gianni)Wyndham Lathem stands with his attorneys in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday. (Courtroom sketch by Thomas Gianni)

An autopsy report says Cornell-Duranleau – who was reportedly Lathem’s boyfriend – died from “multiple sharp force injuries.” He was found in the bedroom of Lathem’s apartment by Chicago police with dozens of stab wounds to his chest, back and neck.

Lathem was regarded as an expert researcher on the plague-causing bacteria, Yersinia pestis, while Warren worked as a senior treasury assistant at Oxford.

Spokesmen at Northwestern and Oxford have confirmed both suspects were terminated from their positions.

Lathem is due back in court for a status hearing Oct. 31. Warren has a hearing scheduled Nov. 1.

Follow Matt Masterson on Twitter: @ByMattMasterson

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Sept. 20: Wyndham Lathem and Andrew Warren each face six counts of first-degree murder in the July stabbing death of a 26-year-old man inside Lathem’s River North home.

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