Prosecutors drop charges against man in SIU student’s death

Gaege Bethune

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) – A special prosecutor has dropped charges against a man whose conviction in the death of a Southern Illinois University student was overturned on appeal.

Prosecutors say they plan to rebuild a case against Gaege Bethune in the 2014 death of 19-year-old Pravin Varughese of Eldorado, Illinois. Jackson Circuit Court Judge Mark Clarke in September dismissed Bethune’s first-degree murder conviction, saying jurors could have been confused by wording in the man’s indictment.

Special prosecutor David Robinson said Thursday the state will begin again by re-investigating the murder case against Bethune.

Prosecutors said Bethune and Varughese were intoxicated when they fought while driving around Carbondale looking for cocaine. They alleged Bethune caused head injuries that left Varughese disoriented and led to his hypothermia death.

In winning an appeal, Bethune’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, argued no evidence was presented at trial to prove the prosecution’s case.