VALPARAISO | Fredrick Cashner Jr. had little to say Monday afternoon during his initial hearing on a charge of murdering his estranged wife.
He is accused of firing at least eight bullets into her body with a high-powered semi-automatic rifle.
Cashner, of 371 E. Tratebas Road in Jackson Township, wore a suicide-watch outfit and tapped his fingers on the table throughout the short hearing conducted via a teleconferencing system between the jail and the courtroom of Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.
When asked if he planned to hire an attorney, Cashner said he was not sure, and he was given time to explore his options. He said he did not have any questions.
The hearing attracted a small group of onlookers.
A plea of not guilty was entered on Cashner's behalf to the single charge of murder, which carries a potential sentence of between 45 and 65 years in prison.
Bradford told Cashner that a bond is not an option for a murder charge.
A trial was scheduled for Oct. 31, with preliminary hearings Aug. 29 and Oct. 3. A special attorney status hearing was scheduled for June 20.
Cynthia Cashner, 50, was found lying dead on an air mattress after police received a 911 call about 10:25 p.m. April 24 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.
The death is the county's first homicide of the year.