OAKLAND -- A 54-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in prison for the 1992 strangulation killings of two Oakland mothers, murders that were solved nearly two decades after the fact with DNA evidence.

Monte Crawford, formerly of Oakland, was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole before he took a deal and pleaded no contest to the murders of Tredis Penny and Shirley Wynn.

Prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew said there is no evidence that Crawford, a military veteran, knew the women before he sexually assaulted them, strangled them and dumped their nude or partially clothed bodies in the Oakland hills not far from his grandparents' house.

Penny, 26, was found dead off Skyline Road on Feb. 24, 1992. The body of Wynn, 38, was found March 1, 1992, near Golf Links Road.

The killings were unsolved until investigators got a cold hit in a national DNA database of criminals linking Crawford to the deaths in 2004.

Crawford had his DNA sample submitted to the database as a result of his second-degree rape conviction in Washington state for sexually assaulting a 65-year-old woman. That woman said in a letter to the Wynn and Penny families that she was grateful that the killings were solved.

"When I was attacked by Monte Crawford in April 2000, I asked myself why. But because of the DNA samples that were collected, it was proven he was responsible for your losses," the woman wrote. "I know sadness is hard to put away. I am hopeful that all of you have found some peace."


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Crawford was charged with Wynn and Penny's murders in 2008 as he was getting near the end of his prison sentence in Washington. His case in the Alameda County court was delayed at times because of his mental health.

Family members of the victims attended Crawford's sentencing Friday, but only one chose to personally address Judge C. Don Clay.

"How can he do that to my mom? That's all I have to say," said Penny's son, who was 12 at the time of her death.

In a letter to the court, Wynn's family said she left behind six daughters between the ages of 1 and 19. The daughters were all separated after the murder, exacerbating their emotional toll. Wynn's own mother died of a broken heart, they said, never knowing who killed her daughter and why.

Crawford made no statement at the sentencing.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Contact her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.