Grand jury hands down indictment in SIU student death - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Grand jury hands down indictment in SIU student death

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UPDATED STORY JULY 14, 2017 1:00 P.M.

JACKSON COUNTY -- Authorities in Jackson County say 22-year-old Gaege Bethune has been released from the Jackson County Jail.

Bethune turned himself in to the Jackson County Jail at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday, July 13.

Bethune has been indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in the 2014 murder of SIU student Pravin Varughese.

His bond was set at $1,000,000, with 10%  to apply.

Friday morning, Bethune posted $100,000 and was released from the jail.


JACKSON COUNTY -- The victim's family confirms to News 3 that a grand jury has indicted 22-year-old Gaege Bethune on two counts of first-degree murder in the 2014 murder of SIU student Pravin Varughese.

A Jackson County coroner found no sign of foul play at the time of the teenager's death, and Jackson County State's Attorney Mike Carr declined to file charges in the case.

The Varughese family never let the case drop, enlisting the help of private investigators and the Autopsy Center of Chicago.  A report from the Autopsy Center reportedly ruled the death caused by "blunt force trauma".

In March of 2015, Carr turned the case over to a special prosecutor in the Illinois State Appellate Court.

Family members tell News 3 they only learned of the indictment late Thursday.

"We were not going to give up the best thing we had was a special prosecutor was willing to look into every single detail and investigate this case thoroughly, unbiased, " said Pravin's mother, Lovely Varughese.

She tells News 3's Tia Rinehart, she always knew there was more to the story of her son's death.   Now, she may soon see it all unfold in a court of law.

 A representative of the Illinois Appellate Court could not say what might happen next in this case, but absent a plea in the case, a trial seems certain.

News 3 reporters are working on this still-developing story and will have updated information as we get it, online and on air.

At 9:34 p.m., News 3 received this release from special prosecutor David Robinson:

In re: Pravin Varughese Death Investigation

July 13, 2017

On March 2, 2015, the Circuit Court of Jackson County appointed the Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (hereinafter, “OSAAP”) to review the circumstances surrounding the February 2014 death of Pravin Varughese.  Specifically, OSAAP was tasked with determining, in accordance with the duties of a public prosecutor, whether sufficient evidence existed to seek an indictment—specifically, “the potential offense of homicide.” 
Today a Grand Jury, impaneled to investigate and evaluate potential charges in this case, returned a True Bill of Indictment – Two Counts of Felony Murder (First Degree) – against Mr. Gaege Bethune of Eldorado, Illinois. 

OSAAP would like to thank the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation, particularly the Carbondale Police Department which has worked diligently and professionally from start to finish.

As in every criminal case, the public should be aware that a defendant, including the defendant in this case, is entitled to a fair trial and enjoys the presumption of innocence.  It is, of course, the State’s burden to prove any criminal defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

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