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Autumn Pasquale Murder Update: Dante Robinson, N.J. teen charged with strangling girl to death, released after possible plea deal reached

A body found in a recycling container has been preliminarily identified as that of a missing 12-year-old southern New Jersey girl, officials said Tuesday. The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that the body found 10 p.m. Monday in Clayton is believed to be that of Autumn Pasquale, who was last seen on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Pasquale was last seen leaving her home at 1:30 p.m. on a white, BMX Odyssey bike and had not been seen since. An autopsy to confirm the body's identity will be conducted Tuesday morning by the Gloucester County Medical Examiner's office, officials said. Personal photo

Last Updated Sep 25, 2013 11:46 AM EDT

Autumn Pasquale in an undated photo.
Personal photo

(CBS/AP) WOODBURY, N.J. - The brother of a New Jersey teenager who admitted killing Autumn Pasquale, a 12-year-old girl who wanted to trade bike parts, has been released from a juvenile jail, which suggests that he may have reached a plea deal on a lesser charge.

Authorities would not comment on Dante Robinson's release because juvenile court dispositions are confidential.

PICTURES: Body of missing NJ girl found

Robinson, 17, had been charged with murder in the death of Autumn.

His 16-year-old brother, Justin, pleaded guilty last month to aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced this month to 17 years in prison. Justin said he acted alone when he strangled Autumn after luring her to his Clayton home in October 2012. The girl's disappearance set off a massive search in the small town 25 miles south of Philadelphia.

Attorney Chris Hoffner told the South Jersey Times that Dante Robinson was released from custody on Tuesday. He said his client admitted no crime and wasn't involved in the girl's death or moving her body.

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."

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 that because of his age and developmental disabilities, it was not certain that a judge would have ordered the case moved to adult court. And if he had been convicted of murder as a juvenile, he could have been paroled in as few as seven years.

They also said there was no physical evidence to show which of the brothers had killed the girl.

It was the brothers' mother who contacted authorities after seeing something that bothered her on one of their social media accounts as the community searched for Autumn.

Complete coverage of the Autumn Pasquale case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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