Teen Brothers Charged In Death Of 12-Year-Old N.J. Girl Held In Juvenile Detention Center
WOODBURY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Two teenage brothers accused of killing a 12-year-old New Jersey girl were ordered Friday to remain in a juvenile detention center, while the girl’s parents backed off their criticism of the way law enforcement had handled the case.
Friday’s detention hearing was the first court appearance for the teens since they were arrested Tuesday and charged with murdering Autumn Pasquale, who disappeared in her hometown of Clayton on Oct. 20.
The brothers, aged 15 and 17, have been charged with first-degree murder and other crimes against Pasquale, who would have turned 13 on Oct. 29. Authorities say the younger boy lured her to their home by promising to trade bicycle parts.
Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Michelle Jeneby said afterward that both boys were ordered to be detained until the next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 16. She would not say whether their lawyers asked for them to be released or give other details about what happened.
Because they are juveniles, authorities have not released the boys’ names. But neighbors and others in Clayton, a rural community of 8,000 located 25 miles south of Philadelphia, identify them as 17-year-old Dante Robinson and 15-year-old Justin Robinson.
Jeneby said her office intends to file papers to have the case moved to adult court. She said she did not expect the matter to be resolved for at least several weeks after that motion is made.
Autumn was last seen around 12:30 p.m. Saturday leaving her Clayton home on her white bicycle. After a 48-hour search, her body was discovered in a blue recycling bin around 10 p.m. Monday night behind a vacant home next to where the brothers lived.
Jaime Kaigh, a criminal defense lawyer, said he had been hired by the girl’s parents and their spouses to help them deal with the case.
He said he does not believe that the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office mishandled the search for Autumn, who was reported missing at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, about nine hours after she was seen riding her bike away from her home.
That is in contrast with statements from the girl’s mother, Jennifer Cornwell, and a great uncle, Paul Spadofora, who had served as a spokesman for the family. Spadafora had asked the state attorney general to investigate the official response.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton defended his office’s response, saying officials “poured their hearts and souls” into the case. Up to 200 law enforcement officials and hundreds more volunteers joined the search.
The aftermath of the slaying brought the revelation that there may have been Facebook postings between Autumn and one of the brothers in the days before her death.
A Facebook account that appears to belong to one of the teens charged had a picture posted in August of a BMX bike. On Oct. 17, a post apparently from Autumn asked: “Is tht ur bike?”
The two exchanged a volley of messages in abbreviated language. He answered, “yeuop.” She proclaimed, “Thts sexy!” He responded, “lol thx” and later added: “yess cme 2 my house.”
The exchange is no longer available on Facebook, but someone took a screenshot and saved it to the photo-sharing site ImageShack.
Autumn disappeared three days later.
The prosecutor’s office has not commented on the Facebook postings.
Autumn will be laid to rest on Saturday.
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