Friends, family testify in Bethune murder trial - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Friends, family testify in Bethune murder trial

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- Friends and family testify in the murder trial of Gaege Bethune.

They detailed the events surrounding Pravin Varughese's death in February 2014.

Three friends of Bethune took the stand Friday, describing the drive from West Frankfort to a party at 405 W. College St. in Carbondale on Feb. 12, 2014.

The friends said Bethune was swerving all over the road and appeared intoxicated. They said eventually, Bethune's cousin, Jonathan Stanley, had to drive.

That contradicts previous testimony from Stanley and from statements Bethune made to police.

One of those statements was played in court: the second statement Bethune made to police and the first one after Varughese's body was found.

He admitted to lying about a "black hitch hiker" but he insists he was the victim of a robbery.

Bethune told a Carbondale Police detective that he was worried if he told the truth, he might get arrested for DUI or battery.

The woman hosting the party at 405 W. College St. that night also testified, saying she told Bethune to leave several times because she wasn't comfortable with him.

They had a history, but she didn't explain.

After Bethune's fight with Varughese, Bethune texted a girl who was 16 at the time to do cocaine.

She testified there was no actual cocaine that night and Bethune was so drunk, she had to help him inside his father's house.

The father, Don Bethune, said in court that he doesn't remember much about that night because he was asleep, but he does remember Gaege telling him about the fight after the fact, and also Gaege telling him he saw the man he fought on the news a few days later.

As for Varughese, his roommate and cousin testified about their night partying, saying Varughese wasn't that drunk, but the roommate left around 10:30 p.m. to go to work at a bar.  

The last person Varughese called, Aneeta Johnson, described that call: a two-minute conversation where she heard running and yelling between Varughese and another man.

She says she hung up on him because eventually, Pravin stopped responding to her, and all she heard was running.

That was the last time investigators believe Varughese spoke to anyone.

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