Man sentenced to life in prison for 1989 rape and murder

Gerald Austin

It’s taken decades, but a son finally has justice now that the man who killed his mother has been sentenced to life in prison.

In 1989, 81-year-old Edith Skinner was killed in her own apartment. She left behind a son, who finally had his say on judgement day in a letter read aloud in court by deputy prosecutor Scott Bell.

“I could not, and still do not, understand how a man could rape and strangle a 81-year-old woman. Mom came from a family who had long life spans, some living to age 114,” the letter said.

Gerald Austin denies killing Skinner, and the prosecutor says the convicted killer has given three different versions of what happened back then.

“I do hope Mr. Skinner, the son of Mrs. Edith Skinner can find some peace,” Austin said in court. “And know this. I do feel for him, and for Mrs. Skinner because she never deserved to have any of this happen to her.”

Even though the murder occurred in 1989, decades ago, technology and a change in the law brought all parties back to the courtroom Wednesday for Austin’s sentencing.

“Decades after the fact Mr. Austin had to give a DNA sample, because he is a convicted felon, and it just so happened that while running a computer check, his known DNA profile matched the profile found on Mrs. Skinner all of those years ago,” Bell explained.

Because Skinner was elderly, Austin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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