CROWN POINT | An Alsip man charged in the death of 76-year-old Mary Austgen appeared Friday without legal counsel before Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell.
Ralph Martinez, 57, faces charges of murder, robbery and criminal confinement in the slaying of the Griffith businesswoman whose body was discovered in March at a Gary casino.
During last week's arraignment, Lake Criminal Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan found Martinez, with assets of at least $50,000, to be ineligible to be appointed a public defender.
Martinez indicated he would seek private representation in the case, but Friday he was temporarily appointed a public defender to assist him in the hire.
Martinez told the court the phone system at the jail prevented him from making the necessary calls to obtain counsel.
As a result, Boswell reset Martinez's formal appearance for May 31.
Martinez is accused of attacking Austgen, of St. John, on March 28 and taking her at gunpoint from her family business, 801 E. Main St., Griffith. Martinez is a former tenant at the business, police said.
Austgen's body was discovered March 29 at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary. She suffered a gunshot to the abdomen.
A man was seen entering the Austgen family business at 2:42 p.m. March 28, according to court records. He wasn't seen on the video surveillance tape again until Austgen attempted to leave the building at 5:07 p.m.
The man is seen pointing a semi-automatic handgun at Austgen. The two entered the building again and later left the area in Austgen's car, court records state.
The car was later observed entering the casino parking garage.
Martinez's ex-wife indicated images police released of the suspect resembled Martinez, according to court records.