Sentencing for Teen Convicted of Tragic Murder
Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013 at 6:51 am
New Jersey teenage Justin Robinson said he made “a big mistake” during his sentencing on Thursday. He plead guilty to charges of aggravated manslaughter in the strangulation death of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale in October 2012. Robinson lured the victim to her death with FaceBook exchanges promising the young tomboy bicycle parts.
The plea deal of 17 years in prison with no possibility of parole for 14 years was struck because prosecutors were unable to provide sufficient physical evidence to determine whether Justin or his brother Dante were ultimately responsible for the young girl’s death. No motive was given for the killing but Robinson stated that he acted alone. The family of Autumn Pasquale is angry with the sentencing and had hoped for the death penalty.
Pasquale went to Robinson’s home on October 12, 2012 after receiving the offer of bike parts on FaceBook. When she did not return home that evening, a massive community-wide search was mounted. Her body was recovered in a recycling bin located next door to the Robinson home. Members of the family have sought therapy to deal with the crime.
The first break in the case was given by the boy’s mother. She was troubled by some FaceBook comments on her son’s account and brought those comments to the attention of police. She spoke briefly during the sentencing.
The close knit community was shocked by Autumn’s disappearance and death. Her father worked as a mail carrier and had delivered mail to the Robinson home for many years. Autumn’s grandmother taught Justin while he was at school. Her soccer team renamed itself Autumn’s Angels in her honor and a park and bike path was renamed in her honor.
Jean Falkner, Robinson’s attorney, plead for leniency in the case stating that the boy had learned the behavior. He had witnessed numerous strangulation attempts by his father against his mother. The lawyer stated that Robinson suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. Other than his confession, there is no solid evidence proving that Robinson was solely responsible for the murder.
The elder brother Dante, who was 17 years old when arrested in October is still charged with murder. It is not known what the authorities plan to do.