It was a huge heartbreak for a suburban mother when prosecutors dropped the case against the man found guilty of murdering her son.
It's just the latest twist in the death of a Southern Illinois University student, but the victim's mother has never given up hope.
“There were many days I thought I can't do this anymore, then I hear a little voice in my heart – ‘mommy,’ who else is going to do it for him,” said mom Lovely Varughese.
The past four and a half years, Varughese fought to discover what happened to her son, Pravin. He was an SIU student when he was found dead of hypothermia in the woods in Carbondale. Prosecutors said he'd been hit in the head during a fight.
Gaege Bethune was found guilty of his murder, but a judge tossed the conviction, blaming confusing wording in the indictment.
Now, a special prosecutor has dropped the case against Bethune.
“He has never said sorry for his actions, so now he thinks he's free, and I honestly hope and pray he won't go and do this to someone else,” Varughese said.
“He's ecstatic the case is going to be dismissed, who wouldn't be? Who wants to be facing a murder case when they didn't do anything?” said defense attorney Steve Greenberg.
Bethune's lawyer, Steven Greenberg, says this case should be closed for good.
“It's a tragedy he then got lost and froze to death, but my client didn't cause that,” Greenberg said.
Despite Bethune going free, Varughese says she feels at peace.
“The justice we are so hoping for our son, we got it when the jury convicted him,” she said.
The special prosecutor says he may seek a new indictment. He says he's still looking at the student's death and alleged jury tampering during the first trial.