Doctors testify about conflicting autopsies in Varughese death - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Doctors testify about conflicting autopsies in Varughese death

Posted: Updated: Jun 11, 2018 07:45 PM

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- Two autopsies came out with different results in the death of Pravin Varughese, but why?

That question was at the heart of testimony Monday in Gaege Bethune's murder trial.

Dr. James Jacoby conducted the first autopsy shortly after the body was found Feb. 18, 2014.

He ruled Varughese died of hypothermia, but Jacoby reported the manner of death was undetermined.

Dr. Ben Margolis' second autopsy a few days later concluded there was blunt force trauma to Pravin's head and it should've been ruled a homicide.

Jacoby told the jury Monday that Varughese had some scratches and some bruising, but he wrote those off as injuries caused by running into the woods.

Jacoby said there were no significant injuries: no fractures, no internal bleeding, nothing except for a small hemorrhage under his scalp, but his skull wasn't fractured.

As he's describing the report, several members of the Varughese family looked down at the ground, trying to avoid the photos of Pravin's dead body on the courtroom monitors.

Margolis took the stand later Monday to defend his autopsy.

The family hired him a few days after the first autopsy and he ruled blunt force trauma to Pravin's head played a role in his death.

Bethune's attorney, Mike Wepsiec, battled back against Margolis' claims and even his credentials to conduct the procedure.

Margolis isn't board certified in forensics, he had to wait several days to see the body and when he did, it had already been cut up for the first autopsy.

It was even embalmed by the time Margolis examined the body.

A third doctor, Scott Denton, examined both reports. He testified there was blunt trauma along Pravin's forehead, but had he not suffered hypothermia, he said those injuries would have healed.

There was also the question of if Varughese was drunk that night.

The doctors found no alcohol or drugs in his blood, but they did find some alcohol in his urine.

The judge said he expects the state to wrap up its case soon and then the defense is expected to start calling witnesses.

Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify Dr. Margolis isn't certified in forensics. He is certified in anatomic and clinical pathology.

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