For the last three weeks, he hasn’t been able to get a good night’s sleep, take a decent shower or have a home-cooked meal, relatives said. That all changed Wednesday when prosecutors dropped murder and robbery charges against Jason Austin.
For the last three weeks, he hasn’t been able to get a good night’s sleep, take a decent shower or have a home-cooked meal, relatives said. That all changed Wednesday when prosecutors dropped murder and robbery charges against Jason Austin. Witness statements to a grand jury and a lack of evidence led to Austin being a free man. Austin, 26, was charged with the Aug. 13 fatal shootings of Chicago police detective Robert Soto and Kathryn Romberg, a DCFS supervisor in the Garfield Park neighborhood. Soto managed to call 911 and describe his assailants and the getaway car, implicating Austin in the crime. He was charged five days later with double murder and armed robbery. About 10 of Austin’s relatives at his hearing at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, including his mother, listened as prosecutors asked for charges to be dropped against Austin. David Wiener, Austin’s attorney, replied, “No objection” as Austin let out a smile as he was escorted back to the jail. His family hugged each other and cried after reality set in that he would be joining them a few hours later. Austin declined to comment once he was released later that afternoon. He and his family vehemently denied claims he was involved in the fatal alleged robbery, stating he was not the shooter, nor was his maroon Buick Regal involved in the incident. Surveillance videos from police and private cameras in the area coupled with sworn statements from an auto repair shop employee backed up those claims. The employee stated that Austin’s car was in the shop the day before the shooting and a few hours after the incident, according to Wiener. Austin’s mother, Ruthie Austin, sobbing intensely, told reporters after the hearing that she never lost faith and knew that her son did not commit the crime. “I want to thank everybody for believing in him and standing by him. I want to say how sorry I am for the other families that did lose someone. He’s not a cop killer, and I just want everybody to know that. His heart is not like that,” his mother said. Wiener said prosecutors did the right thing, and it took a lot of “courage” to drop the charges. He also gave Austin a piece of advice: steer clear of Area 4. “I know the Area 4 police detectives are not happy with this decision. But they are good people and probably very, very angry based on the fact that one of their own was killed,” Wiener said after the case against his client was dismissed. Anything Austin does while he’s outside from this point forward could be a detriment, Wiener alluded. “He could be dropping a piece of gum on the sidewalk and be picked up in the next 25 minutes, so my advice to him in the back was get the heck out of town or at least away from Area 4,” he said. Austin’s mother said he grew up in that area, but no longer lived there. He just visits friends in that neighborhood. Police and prosecutors said the investigation remains active. ______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.