Bethune learns fate in court

Motion and sentencing hearings for Gaege Bethune are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17 at the...
Motion and sentencing hearings for Gaege Bethune are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17 at the Jackson County Courthouse in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Source: Jackson County Jail)(Source: Jackson County Jail)
Updated: Dec. 6, 2018 at 3:45 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - Gaege Bethune was in court on Wednesday, Jan. 9 with his defense attorney Liam Kelly.

Kelly said were ready and willing to proceed the trial. He said, “The state does not have a viable legal theory to charge Mr. Bethune with murder.”

Bethune’s attorney had withdrawn the motion to remove the special prosecutor in the case on Thursday, Dec. 6.

Bethune’s attorney Steve Greenberg filed the request in behalf of his client to withdraw petition to intervene and motion to terminate.

According to court documents, “Gaege Bethune respectfully moves this Court to enter an order allowing him to withdraw his pleadings, and/or ordering any other equitable and appropriate relief.”

The defense had motioned on Dec. 5 in court to terminate the appointment of Special Prosecutor David Robinson and filed a demand for a speedy trial.

Chief Deputy Director David Robinson, the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor said of the withdrawal: “The State welcomed this filing, as believe both were unfounded an meritless.”

There will be no dismissal of any charges in the case of the death of Southern Illinois University Student Pravin Varughese. Court met on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. to settle some motions in the case.

The state filed to nolle prosequi the criminal felony case (dismiss People vs. Bethune). The defense, however, objected and filed a petition to intervene.

Williamson County Judge Jeffrey Goffinet decided the new motions can’t be taken up unless there is some resolution regards defense filings.

Judge Goffinet was only appointed to the People vs. Bethune case (2017CF332), so he does not have the authority in the death investigation case to make a ruling on some of defense filings.

In a news release, Special Prosecutor Robinson stated he filed the motion to dismiss Gaege Bethune’s case in connection of Varughese’s death.

In June 2018, a Jackson County Jury found 24-year-old Bethune guilty of first degree murder in the death of Varughese.

In Sept. 2018, a Jackson County Judge threw out the guilty verdict, reset a new trial and released Bethune on bond.

The judge ruled that he could not be certain that the jury wasn’t impacted by a syntax error when they were given instructions on the case.

Special Prosecutor Robinson then asked the Supreme Court of Illinois to review the trial court’s judgement.

Robinson said that the request was denied on Friday, Nov. 2.

“To that end, OSAAP has filed a motion to nolle prosequi this case and is currently reviewing the totality of circumstances in order to determine whether to seek a new indictment," he said.

According to Special Prosecutor David Robinson, in order to move the process forward his office had to file a motion to dismiss the case because his office “would not be able to move forward with the current indictment."

Currently, the special prosecutor said he has an active special prosecution appointment in the death investigation of Pravin Varughese and an investigation into the accusations of harassment and unlawful communication with jurors in Bethune’s first trial.

“We are back to the beginning,” Robinson said.

Varughese’s mother Lovely said she has peace knowing Bethune admitted to hitting her son.

“We went through almost five years of this craziness and you know I said. We got what we wanted when Gaege Bethune sat in the witness stand and said ‘I hit him.’ We had the answer,” Lovely Varughese said.

Special Prosecutor Robinson said he is currently reviewing whether to seek a new indictment against Bethune.

Bethune’s attorney Steven Greenburg said this case should have never gone to court in the first place. He also said he opposes Robinson’s plan to continue on as special prosecutor.

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