Gaege Bethune, the man convicted of killing Pravin Varughese, an Indian-American student at Southern Illinois University, has replaced his current lawyer, Michael Wepsiec, with two attorneys from the Chicago-based Greenberg Trial Lawyers Office, according to Jackson County Circuit Court documents.
The Court permitted the change of legal counsel and “a motion was filed for an extension of time to prepare for the case and file an additional post-trial motion,” said The Southern Illinoisan.
According to Steven Greenberg, Bethune’s new attorney, the purpose of filing the extension is to “undo his conviction” on the grounds that Bethune was convicted wrongfully of first-degree murder with a “predicate of aggravated battery.”
Greenberg believes that the fact the jury acquitted him of robbery charges means there is no independent felonious motive, as was clearly stated in the initial indictment.
In addition, Bethune’s defense is criticizing what it considers the largely circumstantial and speculative nature of evidence presented by the prosecution, including testimony by medical experts, and the timeframe of Bethune and Varughese’s supposed altercation on the side of a road in eastern Carbondale.
Robinson, the lead prosecutor, called the motion “a joke…[and] totally divorced from the reality of the case,” the Southern Illinoisan reported.
The presiding judge has not yet made a decision about how to move forward, and as of August 10, sentencing time has not changed. A conference call discussing these procedural details was scheduled for the afternoon of August 13, with both parties in attendance and voicing their opinions.