On a crisp fall day in October 2012, the small town of Clayton, New Jersey was missing one of its residents. Autumn Pasquale, a 7th grade strait "A" student in the gifted & talented program was gone. Since that time, it was learned that Autumn was lured to the home ofaquiantances, Justin Robinson (15) and his brother Dante Robinson (17). Autumn was lured the home under the pretense that Justin wanted to trade bike parts with her. Autumn, a BMX bike lover, left her home that Saturday afternoon on her bike, an early birthday present gifted to her by her father, never to be seen again. After an exhaustive 2 1/2 day search by several law enforcement agencies for the middle school student, Autumn was found dead just blocks away from her home. Autumn had been beaten, strangled and stuffed in a trash can. Justin and Dante Robinson were charged with murder immediately after Autumn's body was recovered. After a year of frustrating juvenile court proceedings, Justin reach a plea deal with prosecutors and received a 17-yr prison sentence. He may be out of prison as early as his 30th birthday. His brother Dante was released shortly after Justin's sentencing in September, 2013. The reason for Justin's short sentence and Dante's release? No DNA evidence. How is it possible that a minor can commit the most up-close and personal murder of strangulation and leave absolutely no DNA evidence? This is the million dollar question plaguing South Jersey. One fact has left Autumn's family, friends and community skeptical of the lack of DNA -the Robinsons' mother is a funeral director. Following the conclusion of the criminal cases against the brothers, Autumn's father filed a civil suit against the Robinsons' parents for Failure to Supervise. Sure, you may think that leaving a 15 and 17-year-old is perfectly fine. However, a peak into the lives and minds of these brothers provides what appears to be the perfect storm. Reports hint to the fact that both boys suffer from the neurodevelopmental disorder Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD). Additionally, according to community members, the brothers were known to engage in criminal activity such the theft of bikes, bike parts and Ipads, were constant discipline problems in school and were left home alone and unsupervised frequently. More incriminating, Justin's own attorney admitted in open court that his actions against Autumn were a "learned behavior" due to the fact that he was raised in a violent home and witnessed his father choke his mother on several occasions. The boys' father admitted to the media after Autumn's murder that he had not seen his children in years, essentially abandoning his parental responsibilities. Under normal circumstances, leaving a 15 and 17-year-old home alone would not seem to meet the elements of a claim of Failure to Supervise . However, given all of the issues the brothers were dealing with, Mr. Pasquale believes that the Robinsons knew or should have known that their son was a threat to third persons. In fact, Mr. Pasquale is clear in his belief that the Robinson's actions and lack of actions as it relates to their parenting directly contributed to the death of his daughter. Pasquale's civil suit sparked interest from national media and inspired social media sites from New Jersey to Italy to conduct polls that posed the question "should parents be held responsible for their minor children's crimes?" Given the results of those polls, it appears the large majority of voters agree with Pasquale. Pasquale's attorney Kathleen Bonczyk made a statement in the media that has all but gone viral "if you are going to raise a murderer your going to take responsibility." Pasquale hopes legislators will review his daughter's case and consider new laws that would hold negligent and abusive parents criminally responsible for their children's crimes. Pasquale is on a crusade to shed light on this issue and to induce a long overdue discourse regarding child murderers and the part their parents play in thier crimes. Although its too late for Autumn, Pasquale wants to ensure that what happend to Autumn never happens to another child.
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