Man accused of murdering Indian American student Pravin Varughese appears in court

Pravin Varughese was a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

Pravin Varughese

Gaege Bethune, who faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Indian American student Pravin Varughese, appeared in court on Monday, November 13.

According to a report by, the prosecutor presented evidence against Bethune including videotaped statements and tweets allegedly sent by him. Most of them were anecdotal evidence about alleged crimes he may have committed, including tweets he sent in April 2013 describing how he hustles people and busts heads.

The testimony from the detective also touched on what were found to be lies from the defendant concerning where he went after the state trooper let him leave the night in question. Bethune said he went to this mother’s house. Detectives later learned he actually met up with a 16-yr-old girl and asked her if she wanted cocaine.

“A defendant deserves his right to put on his case and time to prepare and the judge is going to give him that and we respect that,” said special prosecutor David Robinson.

The prosecution also pointed out that Bethune’s ex-girlfriend had accused him of sexual assault. But his defense attorney argued that none of the charges ever made it to court, much less to a conviction.

“It’s kind of hard for me sitting there, watching him rocking in the chair and all. It just gives me like um, it’s hard,” said Lovely Varughese, Mother of Pravin, after the court proceedings.

“Once the argument started I was getting a clear picture of what I am in for.. you know this is going to be a game in court, back and forth,” Varughese said. “So, I have to prepare my mind that I’m here for a long run. This is a marathon.”

The Varughese family
The Varughese family (from left to right): mother Lovely, father Mathew, young sister Preethi, Pravin, and older sister Priya (courtesy of Lovely Varughese)

The family and several close friends of Lovely traveled from Chicago to be present at the court.

The purpose of these pretrial hearings is to lay a foundation for the prosecution and to wade through all of the evidence to see what the judge will and will not allow as part of the trial. Next hearing is scheduled for January 5.

Gaege Bethune, 22, who hails from Eldorado, Illinois, is facing two counts of first-degree murder in the death of Varughese, who went missing in February 2014. If convicted, Bethune could get anywhere from 40 years to 120 years of jail time.

Pravin Varughese, who was a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, was on his way back from a party, but he never reached his townhouse near the campus. The teenager placed a desperate call to a friend around 12.30 a.m., during which he reportedly sounded out-of-breath.

After an intense search for nearly six days, Varughese’s body was found in the woods in an area roughly three miles from the SIU campus.

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