Everyone knows the old adage about setting a thief to catch a thief. But should an accused killer be unleashed to stop a killer?
That’s the argument being made by Wyndham Lathem, who was famous as a renowned microbiologist and bubonic plague expert until he became even more famous for being accused of murder.
The 45-year-old former Northwestern University professor is charged with killing his boyfriend, Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, in July 2017.
He is currently residing in the Cook County Jail in Chicago as he awaits trial.
Lathem, who was the subject of a manhunt after the slaying was discovered, is being held without bail. However, he is arguing that he should be released on $1 million bail, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
He offered two reasons to be set free — both related to the coronavirus.
In addition to a claim that he has health conditions that could make him easy prey for the virus, he said he can use his research skills to help save lives.
“With his background and experience, Dr. Lathem is well-suited to advise and participate in studies that are aimed at understanding SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. William Goldman, chairman of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina, wrote in an email of support filed with Lathem’s request to be freed.
“It would make sense to take advantage of as many experts as possible during this worldwide crisis that is rapidly expanding in scope,” Goldman wrote.
So far, no sale. Last Friday, Judge Charles Burns denied granting bail.
Adam Sheppard, Lathem’s attorney, said Lathem was disappointed — and might be feeling COVID-19 symptoms.
“We are deeply concerned about his health,” Sheppard said Monday. “He had been hopeful that he might get out, but he was not overly optimistic.”
In court papers, Sheppard claimed that jail staff asked Lathem for help in addressing the outbreak at the jail.
Lathem and British citizen Andrew Warren were accused in the murder of Cornell-Duranleau, who was stabbed 70 times by his killers, according to The Guardian.
Warren last year agreed to testify against Lathem in exchange for a sentence of 45 years in prison.
According to Sheppard, Lathem had been working with researchers addressing a plague outbreak in Madagascar shortly before his arrest.
Lathem was also a past chairman of the American Society for Microbiology Bio-Defense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research gathering, Sheppard said.
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