Gaege Bethune, the man who was convicted for the 2014 murder of Indian American Pravin Varughese, has got a reprieve.
Bethune’s murder conviction was thrown out by Jackson County, Illinois, Special Prosecutor David Robinson, on September 19, just two days after he was supposed to be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in state prison.
According to multiple media reports, Jackson County Judge Mark Clarke ordered a fresh new trial for Bethune while he was released on bail, though he was already convicted of first-degree murder in Varughese’s death, by a jury back in June.
Robinson noted that the reason for Bethune’s new trial was because he had violated the terms of his bail release by engaging in illegal drug activity.
In a recorded conversation, Bethune had allegedly told one of his friends to get his marijuana out of his girlfriend’s car, adding that there might be “weed all over the place” and that he should “get rid of it” and to give the money to his girlfriend, according to Robinson’s motion.
In another taped conversation, Bethune’s brother had asked him for “firewood,” a slang term for several drugs.
These are just two of several instances where Bethune was heard discussing the storing and sale of illegal substances during his bail release.
Robinson also accused Bethune of juror harassment.
In response to Bethune’s sentence being overturned, Lovely Varughese, the mother of the victim, said in a Facebook post that she was horrified by the news.
“I thought my sleepless nights were over, but no. I never felt this betrayed in my life like how I felt Monday, September 17. I am sad. I am upset, but I am not going to give up. If I give up now, everything we did to get to this level would have no meaning. We have to get this right. We have to make people believe in the legal system,” she wrote.
The Varughese family fought for four years to get justice for Pravin, a former Southern Illinois University student, who died of hypothermia due to the head injuries that were caused by Bethune in February 2014, when they fought while driving around, looking for cocaine, according to a WSIL report.