Judge throws out conviction in Illinois student’s death

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois judge has thrown out a murder conviction in the 2014 death of a Southern Illinois University student.

A Jackson County judge vacated Gaege Bethune’s first-degree murder conviction Monday in 19-year-old Pravin Varughese’s (VAHR’-geez) death, after saying jurors could have been confused by wording in Bethune’s indictment.

A jury convicted the Eldorado, Illinois, man in June in Varughese’s death, but his new defense attorney sought to have the conviction thrown out.

The case is now set for a new trial.

Prosecutors say Bethune and Varughese were intoxicated when they fought while driving around Carbondale looking for cocaine in February 2014 and that Bethune caused head injuries that left Varughese disoriented and led to his hypothermia death.

Bethune’s attorney argued no evidence was presented to prove that claim.

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This story has been corrected to show that Bethune, not Varughese, is from the southern Illinois community of Eldorado.

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