CROWN POINT | An Alsip man charged in the death of Mary Austgen, 76, of St. John, told the court Wednesday he has been unable to hire a private attorney.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell promptly reappointed public defender Casey McCloskey to continue to represent Ralph Martinez, 58, who faces charges of murder, robbery and criminal confinement in the case.
The body of the Griffith businesswoman was discovered in March at a Gary casino.
With assets of at least $50,000, Martinez initially had been found ineligible to be appointed a public defender.
Boswell in May temporarily appointed the public defender's office only to assist Martinez in hiring a private attorney when Martinez complained of difficulty.
Also on Wednesday, Boswell set a trial date of Feb. 24, as well as an omnibus hearing of July 17 and pretrial hearing of Jan. 22.