Jury deliberations begin in trial over SIU student’s death
MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) — Jury deliberations are underway in the trial of man charged with first-degree murder in the February 2014 death of a Southern Illinois University student.
Twenty-three-year-old Gaege Bethune of Eldorado, Illinois, is accused of striking 19-year-old Pravin Varughese (VAHR’-geez) several times and driving off, which led to his death from hypothermia.
In his closing arguments, Appellate Prosecutor David Robinson on Thursday said Bethune battered and robbed Varughese, setting into motion events that led to first-degree murder.
Defense attorney Michael Wepsiec noted Bethune is not on trial for lying, but for first-degree murder. He said only superficial bruises were found on Varughese’s body and $24 in his wallet.
Prosecutors contend an intoxicated Bethune and Varughese drove around Carbondale looking for cocaine. After an unsuccessful search, prosecutors say the pair fought. After the fight, wearing only a T-shirt and blue jeans, Varughese ran into the woods. His body was found several days later.