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32 letters filed in support of professor charged over Chicago stab death

More than 30 colleagues and friends of a former Northwestern University professor charged over the stabbing death of a 26-year-old man have written letters of support.

"I feel his contributions will eventually lead to the eradications of these infections, which continue to kill several thousand people every year," one colleague wrote about Wyndham Lathem in a letter that his lawyer submitted to the court in the hope of persuading a judge to allow him to post bond for his release from jail, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Lathem and Oxford University employee Andrew Warren are charged with first-degree murder over the July 27 death of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, a Michigan native who had been living in Chicago.

Prosecutors allege that Lathem and Warren had been planning for months since they met online to kill someone as part of a sexual fantasy.

They claim that after Warren flew to Chicago, the pair attacked Mr Cornell-Duranleau as he slept in Lathem's Chicago high-rise apartment.

Friends, relatives and co-workers of criminal defendants often write letters to judges asking for leniency, but they are almost always written in anticipation of sentencing and are rarely sent to judges before trial.

In this case, the judge read them before the defendants appeared before a hearing on Sunday.

Another person in one of the 32 letters Lathem's lawyer filed with the court said that if the judge allowed Lathem to post bond then Lathem could live with the person.

The newspaper did not provide the names of any of the authors of the letters.

The judge said the information in the letters had nothing to do with the case against Lathem.

"The court has read his professional and academic achievements," Cook County Judge Adam D Bourgeois Jr said in court. "Some of the finest in the world, right? It has nothing to do with this, though."

All of the letters were dated within days of the date the two men surrendered to police in northern California after a nationwide manhunt, and before details of the killing were made public, the Sun-Times reported.

AP

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