Closing arguments set in trial over SIU student’s death

MURPHYSBORO, Ill.  — Closing arguments are set to begin in trial of man charged with first-degree murder in the February 2014 death of a Southern Illinois University student.

Twenty-three-year-old Gaege Bethune of Eldorado, Illinois, is accused of striking Pravin Varughese several times and driving off, which led to his death from hypothermia. The jury in Murphysboro will hear closing arguments Thursday.

Prosecutors contend an intoxicated Bethune and the 19-year-old Varughese drove around Carbondale looking for cocaine. After an unsuccessful search, prosecutors say the pair fought.

Bethune testified that he told a state trooper that Varughese, wearing only a T-shirt and blue jeans, ran into the woods. Trooper Christopher Martin testified he didn’t believe Bethune and didn’t have the wooded area in Carbondale searched.

Varughese’s body was found several days later.

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