VALPARAISO | A Jackson Township man charged in his estranged wife's slaying now has until Dec. 6 to accept a plea agreement.
A judge extended the deadline Monday after Fredrick Cashner Jr. declined to take action on an offer to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a prison sentence of 45 years.
The murder charge carries a potential sentence of 45 to 65 years.
Cashner has no prior criminal history and likely would not receive more than 55 years if found guilty at trial, Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said after the court hearing.
Cashner is accused of killing his estranged wife, 50-year-old Cynthia Cashner, on April 24, 2011, by firing at least eight bullets into her body with a high-powered semiautomatic rifle.
Cynthia Cashner was found dead on an air mattress after police received a 911 call about 10:25 p.m. from the Mystic Moon Herbal Shoppe, 5830 U.S. 6, Portage, which she owned.
Dispatchers reportedly heard faint breathing on the line and nothing else, though on second review, detectives later heard a male voice in the background say, "It's too late," followed by three or four gunshots, police said.
If Cashner does not accept the proposed plea agreement, his case will go trial Jan. 7 before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.