Trial set in 2013 killing of Griffith businesswoman
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent June 18, 2014 11:10PM
Ralph Perez Martinez
Updated: July 21, 2014 3:32PM
CROWN POINT — A Jan. 20 trial date has been set for an Alsip, Illinois, man charged with murder in the March 2013 shooting death of a Griffith businesswoman in the parking garage of a Gary casino.
Ralph P. Martinez, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, robbery and criminal confinement in the death of Mary Austgen, 76, of St. John, who was found dead in her 2011 GMC Yukon Denali in the garage of the Majestic Star Casino. Martinez is being held without bail at the Lake County Jail but is seeking to have bail set in the case.
Prosecutors said Martinez abducted Austgen at gunpoint on March 28, 2013, from the office of her business, Austgen Industrial Park, 801 E. Main St., where Martinez was a tenant, and they drove to the garage.
Martinez stole two diamond rings from Austgen and then shot her, according to prosecutors.
About three weeks after the abduction and homicide, Martinez’s ex-wife called Alsip police to report that she believed photos of the suspect that she saw on a TV news report were that of Martinez and that she had found a diamond ring in her bedroom earlier that she thought belonged to one of her daughters.
The woman said Martinez was with her when she saw the news report, which included mention of a $10,000 award for the capture of the killer, and Martinez said, “Is that all I’m worth?” according to court records.