10/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Cop Murder Suspect Freed


Jason Austin was released from jail Wednesday after Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges against him in last month's murder and robbery of off-duty police detective Robert Soto and Soto's friend, Kathryn Romberg.

Austin said nothing to assembled media before driving away in a white Dodge Neon.

Watch video of Austin's family commenting on his release and authorities discussing the now-continuing investigation:


All charges have been dropped against the man accused of murdering veteran Chicago police detective Robert Soto and his friend, Kathryn Romberg.

Cook County prosecutors cleared Jason Austin, 26, of the murder and robbery charges Wednesday.

From the Tribune:

Austin was charged Aug. 19 and ordered held without bail in the murders of Soto, 49, who was assigned to the bomb and arson unit, and Romberg, 45, a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

At the time, authorities said the victims were sitting in Soto's SUV outside Romberg's West Side home at about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 13 when Austin approached the driver's side of the vehicle and announced a robbery.
But the case began to unravel as witnesses changed their statements. In addition, surveillance video from both Chicago police pod cameras and private security cameras in the area showed a car fleeing the area that was different than Austin's Buick.

In addition, Austin's lawyer and family insisted his vehicle was in a repair shop at the time of the shooting.

The Sun-Times reported late Tuesday that police decided to release Austin after key witnesses changed their stories:

Prosecutors are expected to seek the dismissal of murder and robbery charges against Jason Austin, 26, in court today. "We're faced with witnesses recanting because they fear retaliation. The integrity of the investigation is solid. We're going to continue to follow the evidence," one police official said.

Detectives were trying to prove a pattern of intimidation after witnesses started changing their stories, a source said. Police and prosecutors held a tense, high-level meeting at police headquarters Tuesday before deciding to release Austin... .

Read the entire article here.