Ruling delayed on motion to drop murder charges - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Ruling delayed on motion to drop murder charges

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- A judge delayed ruling on whether to drop murder charges against Gaege Bethune in the death of Pravin Varughese.

Special Prosecutor David Robinson filed a motion to drop charges after a different judge tossed out a jury's guilty verdict against Bethune in September due to an issue with how the indictment was worded.

Prosecutors believe Varughese died in February 2014 following a fight with Bethune near Route 13 in Carbondale.

Robinson said that even though he disagrees with the judge's decision, he can't pursue charges with the exact same indictment due to that ruling.

Bethune's lawyer, Steve Greenberg, filed a motion to remove the special prosecutor in the investigation into Varughese's death. The death investigation is a separate case from Bethune's criminal charges.

"My client is the target of that (death investigation)," Greenberg said. "So you can intervene in a case where your rights are going to be decided and no one is more affected by that case than Gaege Bethune."

Williamson County Judge Jeffrey Goffinet was assigned to Bethune's criminal case last month. He decided to delay ruling on a motion to drop the charges until the issue with the death investigation is settled.

Robinson wants to drop charges against Bethune so the case can go back to the pre-indictment stage. That means he could eventually bring new charges to a grand jury and try to get another indictment.

"Despite the state filing its motion and being prepared to move forward today, we were unable to do that because of these motions that the defense had filed (in the death investigation) that need to be taken care of before we move on in the criminal case," Robinson said.

Lovely Varughese, Pravin's mother, plans to support the prosecutor, "I am Pravin's mother. 100 percent. Wherever the prosecutors take us, as long as they go, we will go. That's never going to change."

Robinson expects a hearing to be held regarding the death investigation in the next few weeks. Judge Goffinet set a hearing for January 9 in the criminal case.

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