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Man sentenced to life without parole in cold case murder

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:17 p.m. HST, Jun 18, 2014

A Circuit Court judge sentenced a 54-year-old Makiki man to life in prison without parole Wednesday for the murder of 81-year-old Edith Skinner in Waikiki area senior housing complex 25 years ago.

Judge Colette Garibaldi said an extended term was necessary for Gerald L. Austin for the protection of the public.

State law allows extended sentences in major crimes against people older than 59.

Defense attorney Edward Aquino, arguing for parole, said despite the jury's guilty verdict, Austin never murdered Skinner and added that Austin has stayed out of trouble for the past 20 years.

Austin made a brief statement in court Wednesday, saying he hopes Skinner's son "can find some peace in all this." He added that Skinner "never deserved any of this to happen to her."

Skinner was found dead in her Kalakaua Avenue home July 1989.

Honolulu police recovered DNA from Skinner's body, but could not match it to Austin until 2011.

During Austin's murder trial, the defense admitted he had sexual contact with Skinner. He was found guilty Feb. 5.

Austin was 29 at the time of Skinner's murder.

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