Opening statements delayed in Bethune murder trial - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Opening statements delayed in Bethune murder trial

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Gaege Bethune makes his first court appearance in Jackson County Gaege Bethune makes his first court appearance in Jackson County

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- Opening statements in the murder trial of Gaege Bethune were scheduled to start Tuesday, but proceedings hit a snag.

The judge excused one of the jurors Tuesday, and now they're going back to the jury selection process.

The juror was worried her employer, SIU, would retaliate in some way against her, depending on what the verdict is, so the judge decided to excuse her.

Gaege Bethune faces murder charges in the death of Pravin Varughese more than four years ago.

Because Varughese was a SIU student and because of the publicity surrounding the case, the juror felt like she would be under the microscope.

The court picked twelve jurors and two alternates late Monday but Bethune's attorney, Mike Wepsiec, feels like moving ahead with just one alternate now could lead to problems down the road.

Judge Mark Clarke agreed, saying he has "a commitment to get it done right."

So they'll open the jury selection process back up Wednesday morning and pick one or two more alternates.

Judge Clarke said he expects Wednesday's jury selection to wrap-up by mid-morning, and then both sides will give their opening statements.

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