The two teenage brothers accused of killing 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale in southern New Jersey were to have their first court appearance today as local media fought authorities to have the court hearing open to the media.
The identity of the two boys were not released because of their ages, but their Gloucester County neighbors identified them as Dante Robinson, 17, and Justin Robinson, 15. While they were charged with murder and other crimes against Pasquale, the county prosecutor’s office hadn’t yet announced whether they would be tried as adults.
The girl’s family had initially accused local authorities of not acting quickly enough after she was reported missing, but the family is trying to back away from those early statements.
Jaime Kaigh, a criminal defense lawyer who has been hired by the girl’s family to help them deal on the case, said he does not believe that the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office mishandled the search for Autumn. The girl was reported missing at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, about nine hours after she was seen riding her bike away from her home.
The girl’s mother, Jennifer Cornwell, and a great uncle, Paul Spadofora, who had served as a spokesman for the family, had asked the state attorney general to investigate the official response. But Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said officials had “poured their hearts and souls” into the case, with up to 200 law enforcement officials and hundreds more volunteers joining the search.
Authorities say the younger Robinson boy lured Autumn, who would have turned 13 on Oct. 29, to their home by promising to trade bicycle parts. Her body was discovered in a recycling bin behind a vacant home next to where the brothers lived.
Autumn disappeared three days later.