Juror’s excusal delays trial of man in student’s death

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) — A juror picked to hear the trial of a man accused in the 2014 death of a Southern Illinois University student asked to be excused, delaying the start of testimony.

Gaege Bethune of Eldorado is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Pravin Varughese (VAHR’-geez). A jury was selected late Monday and opening statements in Bethune’s trial were scheduled for Tuesday. The juror asked Judge Mark Clarke to excuse him because serving would have an adverse effect on the juror’s career.

The selection of a replacement alternate juror will take place Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Bethune was arrested three years after Varughese’s body was found in the woods off Illinois 13 on Feb. 18, 2014.

Although authorities concluded at the time there was no evidence of foul play, Lovely Varughese said a private autopsy identified injuries to her son’s head and face.

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