A South Jersey community and the father of a girl who was murdered by a teen boy more than four years ago are pushing for a law that would hold the parents of killers criminally liable.
Community members held a walk and press conference Saturday in Clayton, New Jersey to honor Autumn Pasquale and raise awareness for Autumn’s Law, proposed legislation that would make neglectful/abusive parents criminally liable when their children commit murder.
“If you can hold parents accountable for their kids being truant or you can hold parents accountable for breaking a window and they need to pay it back then why can’t you hold parents accountable for breaking people’s lives?” asked Jessica Gearhart, the organizer of Saturday’s event.
Pasquale was 12-years-old when her body was found stuffed in a recycling bin in Clayton, New Jersey back in October of 2012. Teen brothers Justin Robinson and Dante Robinson were both arrested and charged in her murder after police said they lured her into their home with the promise of trading bike parts and then choked her to death.
Justin Robinson was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2013 after admitting he strangled Pasquale but claimed he acted alone. Dante Robinson was released from a youth correctional facility after pleading guilty to obstruction in connection to Pasquale’s death. He was arrested again last month and charged in a home invasion.
After his daughter’s death, Anthony Pasquale began pushing for Autumn’s Law and created a petition on change.org. In his statement for the proposed law, Pasquale claims the Robinson brothers grew up in an abusive household in which they witnessed their father choke their mother and that they learned their violent behavior from their home environment.
“These parents, knowing their child(ren) already had serious mental disorders, exposed them to violence in the home,” he wrote. “It is no coincidence that my daughter’s cause of death was strangulation. The most influential person in Robinson’s life, his same sex parent, taught him that.”
Pasquale also wrote that he believes his daughter would likely still be alive if her killer had been properly raised.
“Parents/guardians who neglect, abuse, abandon or ignore the warning signs of their children’s propensity toward violence are direct contributors to their minor children’s murders,” he wrote. “If the minor who murdered my daughter was properly treated, parented, disciplined and supervised my daughter would probably be alive today.”