A former university professor accused of stabbing his boyfriend to death has been denied bail so he could use his microbiology expertise to fight coronavirus.
Wyndham Lathem, a diseases expert, has been held at the Cook County Jail since his arrest for the murder of his boyfriend, Trenton Cornell-Duranleau.
Now, the ex-Northwestern University professor has been denied release in order to conduct research into the coronavirus.
Dr. William Goldman, chair of Microbiology and Immunology at University of North Carolina, had written in support of Mr Lathem’s bail request, stating that his “background and experience” made him “well suited” to participating in current coronavirus studies.
The North Carolina professor added that “It would make sense to take advantage of as many experts as possible during this worldwide crisis that is rapidly expanding in scope.”
On Monday, court records indicated that Judge Charles Burns denied granting Mr Latem’s bail – worth $1 million – during an emergency hearing conducted via teleconference on Friday.
That came despite the former professor citing health concerns that put him in increased danger if he contracted the coronavirus.
According to the Cook County Sheriff’s office on Sunday, the Chicago jail had 309 confirmed cases of coronavirus, whilst two detainees have died of complications directly related to the disease.
Attorney Adam Sheppard said on Monday that Mr Lathem was disappointed by the ruling, adding his client reported mild symptoms of COVID-19 on Friday.
“We are deeply concerned about his health,”said Mr Sheppard. “He had been hopeful that he might get out (on bail), but he was not overly optimistic.”
The attorney added that health care workers had reached-out to Mr Lathem for off-record advice about managing the coronavirus outbreak inside Cook County Jail.
The microbiologist has been held there since 2017. Last year, his accomplice, Oxford University employee Andrew Warren, pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Cornell-Duranleau.
Mr Lathem has been held without bail and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He was previously known for his research on the bubonic plague.
Additional reporting by Associated Press