Closed hearing held for youths in Autumn Pasquale killing

Justin Robinson, 15, was said to be charged.
Justin Robinson, 15, was said to be charged.
Posted: January 05, 2013

A Gloucester County judge held a closed-door hearing Thursday for the two teenage brothers charged with killing 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale.

The nature of the hearing or any possible outcome was not disclosed.

An attorney for the victim's father told the South Jersey Times beforehand that it involved a defense motion to bar law enforcement officials from taking hair samples for DNA comparison.

The lawyer, Doug Long of Woodbury, declined to comment after the two-hour hearing.

Officials have not released the suspects' names, but residents of Clayton, where the brothers and their alleged victim lived, have identified them as Justin Robinson, 15, and his 17-year-old brother, Dante.

Superior Court Judge Colleen A. Maier, in a Dec. 14 decision denying news media access to the defendants' juvenile proceedings, also ordered anyone involved in the case not to report what transpired in her courtroom.

That led to confusion as to whether the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office could even confirm that a hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Asked about the hearing Wednesday, the office said it had sought clarification from the judge's office on Dec. 14 and was informed the gag order included court dates.

But Tammy Kendig, a spokeswoman for the state's Administrative Office of the Courts, said Thursday the public has a right to know when court proceedings are to take place.

The Prosecutor's Office later issued a statement saying the defendants were due back in court Jan. 22 for a detention hearing.

Previous proceedings also dealt with the teen suspects' continued detention, a requirement in juvenile cases, which have no provisions for bail.

Prosecutors are seeking to have the pair tried as adults for murder. It is not clear when that will come before the court.

Autumn, a bicycle motocross enthusiast, disappeared Oct. 20 after she went to the Robinsons' home to exchange bike parts, according to authorities.

When she did not return home that night, her family reported her missing, and officials and area residents launched a huge search.

Her body was found in a recycling container behind a home next to the Robinsons' residence on East Clayton Avenue on the night of Oct. 22.

She died of "blunt force trauma consistent with strangulation," according to officials. The brothers were arrested the next day.


Contact Joseph Gambardello

at 856-779-3844 or jgambardello@phillynews.com.

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