MURPHYSBORO -- A Jackson County judge on Monday vacated the murder conviction of an Eldorado man, and a retrial is planned.
Judge Mark Clarke, who presided over the two-week trial in which Gaege Bethune, of Eldorado, was convicted of killing 19-year-old SIU student Pravin Varughese in 2014, has set aside the verdict.
Clarke ordered Bethune released and has called for a new trial, according to online court records.
In June, a jury convicted Bethune on one count of first-degree murder. Prosecutors claimed that on that February 2014 night, Bethune and Varughese had a fight, and that Varughese went into the woods wearing only a shirt and jeans.
His body was found five days later.
On Sept. 11, Bethune's defense attorneys, Steven Greenberg and Liam Kelly of Greenberg Trial Lawyers of Chicago, filed a motion asking either for Bethune's sentence to be vacated or for a verdict of acquittal.
The motion cited improper jury instruction as the reason, which Bethune's attorneys said may have led to jury confusion.
The retrial date has not been set.