Autumn Pasquale’s family hires attorney for parents and step-parents

Posted: October 26, 2012

This story has been updated.

WHEN AUTUMN Leigh Pasquale's family faces her accused killers for the first time Friday morning, they'll have their own attorney there to guide them.

Jaime Kaigh, a former assistant prosecutor in Camden and Cumberland counties, said he was retained by Pasquale's parents, Anthony Pasquale and Jennifer Cornwell, along with their spouses on Thursday.

Kaigh, a longtime criminal-defense lawyer based in Westmont, Camden County, said he would handle all media calls for the family and would help guide them through the proceedings for Justin Robinson, 15, and his brother, Dante Robinson, 17, the Clayton brothers accused of beating and strangling the 12-year-old over a bicycle.

"The family thanks the entire community for their outpouring of support, but would like to have their privacy respected at this time," Kaigh said.

Kaigh, 54, said he met with Pasquale's parents Thursday afternoon to talk about the Robinsons' detention hearing Friday morning. Kaigh is not representing Pasquale's uncle Paul Spadafora, who has acted as a family spokesman since she went missing Saturday.

Spadafora has been critical of how authorities handled the search for Pasquale and the subsequent homicide investigation, and has called for the New Jersey Attorney General's Office to review the case. According to a report Thursday in the South Jersey Times, Spadafora said a retired corrections K-9 officer, Joe Nicholas, had given tips to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office that went unheeded.

Spadafora also told the newspaper that Nicholas spoke to Dante and Justin Robinson at the Clayton police station but that the boys later walked out because the prosecutor "had no clue" they could be involved. The report did not say which day this supposedly happened, and Spadafora could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Nicholas, when reached by the Daily News, said it was Monday afternoon when he saw Justin Robinson in the police station with his stepfather and mother, Anita Saunders. He never saw Dante and never saw the family leave the station, he said, but did urge Justin to "tell the truth."

The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said Saunders grew suspicious and contacted police after seeing a Facebook post her son made. Investigators found Pasquale's body in a recycling bin behind a vacant home next to her house Monday night, shortly after a candlelight vigil. Saunders did not ask for or receive the $10,000 reward that was being offered in the case, authorities said.

Nicholas said he joined the search on Sunday as a civilian volunteer and thinks that authorities made mistakes.

"I believe the whole case could have been faster," said Nicholas, 49.

Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said investigators from his office "poured their hearts and souls into this investigation."

A source familiar with Pasquale's parents said they are "appreciative of the prosecutor's efforts."

When asked whether Pasquale's family is considering civil litigation, Kaigh said he wouldn't know and that his work is "100 percent criminal defense."

"I'm helping them deal with the criminal process, the press and the court system," he said.

Justin and Dante Robinson are both charged with murder, conspiracy, theft, and disposing of a body. Justin also is charged with luring, authorities said, for allegedly asking Pasquale to come to his house under the pretense of trading bicycle parts. Both teens are being held at the Camden County Youth Detention Center and will appear in court for the first time Friday morning in Gloucester County.

Chris Hoffner, an attorney representing Dante Robinson, declined to comment on the case Thursday.Pasquale's funeral will be held Saturday in Glassboro, and she'll be laid to rest in Clayton, about a mile from her home.

Contact Jason Nark at narkj@phillynews.com or 215-854-5916. Follow him on Twitter @JasonNark.

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