CROWN POINT - A special judge set a Feb. 11 murder trial for the man accused of fatally shooting prominent attorney T. Edward Page.
William W. Landske appeared in Lake Criminal Court Friday morning before Special Judge Rex W. Kepner.
The Indiana Supreme Court recently named Kepner to the case. Many local court officials were close to Page. Kepner presides over the Benton County Circuit Court, more than 60 miles south of Crown Point.
Landske, 83, of Cedar Lake, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Page by shooting the 64-year-old the morning of Aug. 15 at the attorney's home in the 1200 block of West Fourth Street in Hobart.
Landske told police he was angry Page had not done enough work on his late wife's taxes. Landske is the husband of deceased state Sen. Sue Landske.
Landske was dressed in a grey striped Lake County Jail uniform and restrained by handcuffs and a belly chain. He winked at family members in court before the hearing began and was admonished by a bailiff not to communicate with anyone in the audience.
"I can't even look at them?" he asked.
Landske appeared with defense lawyer Scott King.
Landske, who had previously employed Valparaiso lawyer Larry Rogers, didn't explain the change.
"I'm still in a haze about all that's going on," Landske said.
King said Landske's family discharged Rogers after "an issue arose." Rogers faces a potential suspension of his law license for at least 30 days following a complaint Rogers potentially jeopardized a client's rights by failing to file an appeal in a murder case. Rogers disputes the allegation.
King said he is still negotiating his fee with the Landske family and expects to know by next week whether he will formally enter in the case.
Kepler questioned Landske about whether he could afford a private defense lawyer. Landske said he had enough income to pay for his own defense from a pension, Social Security benefits and income from several houses he owns that are worth about $500,000.
Deputy Prosecutor Michael Toth estimated Landske's trial would last about four days "depending on what defense is offered" and added it must take place within six months under speedy trial rules.
Kepler scheduled the trial to begin the week of Feb. 11. He set pre-trial hearings to take place Oct. 19 and Jan. 4.