NBC10 - Cydney Long
Family members of Autumn Pasquale and Dante Robinson respond to Dante's release from jail. NBC10's Cydney Long reports live from Clayton, NJ.
A South Jersey teenager who was initially charged in the murder of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale was released from jail on Tuesday, according to a friend of the girl's family.
Jessica Gearhart told NBC10.com that 18-year-old Dante Robinson was released from a youth correctional facility on Tuesday after pleading guilty to obstruction. Robinson was sentenced to six months in jail and released with time served, according to Gearhart.
Gearhart says the family and the town as a whole is upset by Robinson's release.
"We want to spread to word about how obscene this case actually is and hopefully get some answers," Gearhart said. "Right now the community of Clayton (N.J.) has to live with what they perceive to be a murderer."
Neighbors tell NBC10 that there are already threats on Robinson's life. Police said that Robinson's family didn't ask for police protection and police didn't comment if they were offering protection.
Through her lawyer Stanley King, Robinson's mother, Anita Saunders, said that her heart goes out to the Pasquale family and that Dante was innocent.
Earlier this month, Robinson's younger brother, 16-year-old Justin Robinson, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for admittedly strangling Pasquale.
Jaime Kaigh, a lawyer for Autumn's mother, told The Associated Press that the family hopes the end of the criminal case brings "closure and healing."
The plea deal for Justin Robinson was upheld in a New Jersey courtroom on Sept. 12 as friends and family of the victim looked on.
Justin pleaded guilty in adult court in August to aggravated manslaughter, saying he alone and not his brother strangled Autumn in October of 2012 in Clayton.
Police say Autumn was riding her bike to a friend's house when Justin and Dante lured the girl into their home with the promise of trading bike parts.
Two days after she disappeared, Autumn's body was found in a recycling bin near the boys' home.
Both were both charged with murder.
"Autumn's death was senseless and it shook the community to its core. There will never be punishment commensurate with her brutal killing," said Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk.
Before Justin Robinson's sentencing hearing, several friends of Autumn's family expressed frustration that the teen who admitted to the killing was not getting a longer sentence.
Prosecutors said complications in the case led them to cut a plea deal with Justin Robinson on a lesser charge.
First, because Justin Robinson was 15 when the crime was committed and had what authorities called "diminished capacity," it was not certain that his case would have been moved to adult court.
If he had been convicted of murder in juvenile court, he could have had a chance of parole in less than seven years. With his plea deal in adult court, he will have to serve at least 14 years before being eligible for parole.
Faulk said there was no clear evidence other than the boy's admission that it was he and not his brother who choked the girl to death.
The Prosecutor's Office have not yet confirmed Dante Robinson's release. Gearhart told NBC10.com that the Pasquale's wasn't ready yet to speak publicly.
Dante Robinson's attorney spoke to NJ.com on behalf of the teen's family.
"This confirms what we already know," his attorney, Chris Hoffner, said. "Dante did not hurt the decedent and was not involved in her death or the moving of her body. People may not want to believe it, but the truth prevailed today, and Dante is home."