Brother of Autumn Pasquale's confessed killer released from jail

Law enforcement sources confirm to Action News 15-year-old Justin Robinson and 17-year-old Dante Robinson were arrested for the murder of Autumn Pasquale.
September 25, 2013 4:12:17 PM PDT
The brother of a New Jersey teenager who admitted killing a 12-year-old girl who wanted to trade bike parts has been released from a juvenile jail.

Dante Robinson had been charged with murder in the death of Autumn Pasquale.

His 16-year-old brother, Justin, pleaded guilty last month to aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced this month to 17 years in prison. He said he acted alone when he strangled Autumn after luring her to his Clayton home in October 2012. The girl's disappearance set off a massive search in the small town 25 miles south of Philadelphia.

Autumn's father Anthony Pasquale accepts the final outcome but can't understand it.

He will never see his 12-year-old daughter again.

Last October, her body was found stuffed into a recycling bin next door to their home.

The police had no forensic evidence pointing to either brother as the killer.

But, Justin later confessed to strangling Autumn.

Dante, who was home at the time of the murder, has denied any involvement.

Two weeks ago Justin was sentenced.

On Tuesday, Dante was released.

"He is [home] and this is where he belongs. He had nothing to do?he always maintained his innocence from the beginning. That fact was well known almost a year ago. He had nothing to do with this," family attorney Stanley King said.

Anthony Pasquale says he's not sure if he believes Dante had nothing to do with it.

"I'm not quite certain. I have not come up with a conclusion for that," Pasquale said.

Justin and Dante's mother had little to say Wednesday about her sons, but she did reach out the Pasquale family.

"I do like to extend my condolences. Their daughter will always be in my prayers and so will they," Anita Saunders said.

Autumn's father says 17 years is not enough for Justin Robinson.

"By choking her, he knew she was going to die ? my question would be 'why didn't you just let her go?'" Pasquale said.

Autumn's grandmother, Mary Pasquale, says she remains convinced Dante Robinson played a role in the murder. She is now hoping people will continue to honor Autumn's generous spirit and keep her memory alive.

Dante Robinson's release suggests that he reached a plea deal on a lesser charge, but authorities would not comment because juvenile court dispositions for minor offenses are confidential.

Jaime Kaigh, a lawyer for Autumn's mother, told The Associated Press that the family hopes the end of the criminal case brings "closure and healing."

Before Justin Robinson's sentencing hearing, several friends of Autumn's family expressed frustration that the teen who admitted to the killing was not getting a longer sentence.

Prosecutors said that because of his age and developmental disabilities, it was not certain that a judge would have ordered the case moved to adult court. And if he had been convicted of murder as a juvenile, he could have been paroled in as few as seven years.

They also said there was no physical evidence to show which of the brothers had killed the girl.

It was the brothers' mother who contacted authorities after seeing something that bothered her on one of their social media accounts as the community searched for Autumn.

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The Associated Press contributed to the report

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