Man convicted in 2014 death of SIU student

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill.  — A jury has convicted a man of first-degree murder in the February 2014 death of a Southern Illinois University student.

The jury returned the verdict Thursday night against 23-year-old Gaege Bethune of Eldorado, Illinois. He faces 20 to 60 years in prison when sentenced.

Bethune was accused of striking 19-year-old Pravin Varughese (VAHR’-geez) several times and driving off, which led to his death from hypothermia. Prosecutors say Bethune battered and robbed Varughese, setting into motion events that led to his death.

Defense attorney Michael Wepsiec argued that only superficial bruises were found on Varughese’s body and $24 was in his wallet.

Prosecutors contend an intoxicated Bethune and Varughese drove around Carbondale looking for cocaine. After an unsuccessful search, prosecutors say the pair fought. Varughese’s body was found several days later.

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