VALPARAISO | Jackson Township resident Fredrick Cashner Jr. showed no emotion Thursday as he pleaded guilty to murdering his estranged wife in 2011 by repeatedly shooting her with a high-powered semiautomatic rifle.
The 56-year-old's plea is in return for the minimum sentence of 45 years behind bars, which he can complete in half the time with good behavior and participation in various prison programs.
Brian McGowan, who is the brother of 50-year-old murder victim Cynthia Cashner, said the family is pleased with the proposed plea agreement considering there will be no trial and no chance for appeal.
It was McGowan's understanding the defense wanted to argue the shooting was the result of sudden heat and thus should result in a lesser charge.
The family plans to return Jan. 3 when Judge Roger Bradford will decide whether to accept the proposed plea agreement and carry out sentencing, McGowan said. The group has been waiting until that time to spread Cynthia Cashner's ashes.
"We're waiting to put this behind us," he said.
Cashner is accused of killing Cynthia Cashner on April 24, 2011, by firing at least eight bullets into her body.
She was found dead on an air mattress after police received a 911 call about 10:25 p.m. from her Mystic Moon Herbal Shoppe, 5830 U.S. 6, Portage.
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.
When Bradford asked Fredrick Cashner on Thursday if he intended to kill his estranged wife, he initially said no.
After conferring with his defense attorney, Paul Stracci, Cashner responded with a yes to that question and to others asking if he pointed the gun at the victim and pulled the trigger multiple times.
Cashner's case had been set to go to trial Jan. 7.