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Stab death accused professor 'a gentle soul'

A US university professor accused in the stabbing death of a Chicago man is a "gentle soul" and the allegations run contrary to how he has lived his life, the professor's lawyer said before an initial court appearance in California, where he was arrested.

Kenneth H Wine, a lawyer for Wyndham Lathem, urged the public to withhold judgment until all of the facts come out.

"Since the beginning of this case, the defence has received dozens of calls and letters in support of Dr Lathem, from friends and colleagues who have known him for decades," Mr Wine said in a statement.

"They all describe him in the same way - a kind, intelligent, and gentle soul, and a loyal and trusted friend. What he is accused of is totally contrary to the way he has lived his entire life."

Lathem, a Northwestern microbiologist, and Andrew Warren, an Oxford University financial officer, surrendered to San Francisco Bay Area authorities on Friday night after more than a week on the run.

They face preliminary charges of first-degree murder in Illinois in the July 27 killing of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, 26, in Lathem's Chicago apartment.

Lathem and Warren have not been formally charged. Lathem, who surrendered in Oakland, California is being held without bail in Alameda County.

Mr Wine said Lathem will plead not guilty to charges and plans to waive his right to an extradition hearing, which he said would put him back in Chicago within weeks.

Mr Wine added that Lathem, 42, came to the San Francisco Bay Area to see his closest friends and family members. Asked about Lathem's mental state, Mr Wine said he is fine.

Warren, a British national, surrendered in San Francisco and does not have an initial court date yet.

Authorities have not disclosed a possible motive for the killing.

AP

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