Autumn Pasquale murder lawsuit against NJ law enforcement dismissed
The family of a 12-year-old South Jersey girl who was killed by a teenage boy in 2012 has dropped a lawsuit filed against several Gloucester County law enforcement agencies.
According to court documents, the Superior Court lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed without costs or attorney fees. The suit was dismissed "with prejudice," meaning that the suit cannot be refiled at a later date.
The lawsuit, filed in October 2014, two years after the girl's death, alleges that police failed to utilize "adequate law enforcement techniques." If they had, the family believes, there’s “a reasonable chance” Autumn Pasquale would be alive.
It was not clear Wednesday why the family dropped the lawsuit. The Pasquale's attorney, Gregg Zeff, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Pasquale, a 12-year-old Clayton resident, was killed in October 2012 after she went to a neighbor’s home to trade bicycle parts.
In August 2013, Justin Robinson, 16, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in connection with Autumn's death and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. During the teen's hearing, he took sole responsibility for killing the girl. His brother, Dante, had also been charged with murder but was released from a juvenile detention facility in September 2013. At the time, the teen's attorney Attorney Chris Hoffner told the South Jersey Times that Dante did not admit to any crime and wasn’t involved in the girl’s death or moving her body.
Autumn's body was found two days after she went missing on Oct. 20, 2012. Authorities recovered her in a recycling bin near the Robinsons’ home in Clayton. Police said a tip from the suspects' mother pointing to something she saw on her son's Facebook page helped them solve the case.
Following the investigation, the Pasquale family had expressed concerns about the way Gloucester County prosecutors handled the search for Autumn and the case was moved to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the estate of Autumn Pasquale, including her immediate family members. It lists the defendants as the State Police, Gloucester Township, Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office and several local law enforcement agencies within the county.
A year before the suit was filed against the law enforcement agencies, Autumn's father filed a civil lawsuit on Sept. 23, 2013 against the parents of his daughter's killer. The suit, filed in Gloucester County Superior Court, claims Justin Robinson's parents Anita Saunders and Alonzo Robinson should have known before Autumn's death that their son was "possibly engaging in the theft of bicycles," NJ Advance Media reported.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.