crimesider

Autumn Pasquale Murder Update: N.J. teen sentenced to 17 years in girl's strangling death

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
Autumn Pasquale in an undated photo.
Personal photo

(CBS/AP) WOODBURY, N.J. - Justin Robinson, a southern New Jersey teenager who confessed to killing a young girl who disappeared while riding her bike last year, was sentenced to 17 years in prison Thursday.

PICTURES: Body of missing NJ girl found

The 16-year-old pleaded guilty in adult court last month to aggravated manslaughter, saying he alone strangled 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale last October.

"Autumn didn't die from a disease, in a car accident or a random shooting. She was murdered, literally at the hands of the defendant as he watched Autumn take her last breath," Autumn's mother, Jennifer Cornwell, told the courtroom during an impact statement Thursday, CBS Philly reports.

Robinson reportedly offered a short apology during his sentencing.

"I'm sorry. I never meant for this to happen," he told Judge Walter Marshall. "This was all a big mistake."

His mother also spoke Thursday and characterized Autumn's death as an accident.

Pasquale disappeared on Oct. 20 while riding her BMX bike in her neighborhood in Clayton, a town about 25 miles south of Philadelphia. She was allegedly lured into a house by Robinson who told her he wanted to trade bike parts. Police said he and his brother Dante killed the girl for her bike and dumped her body in a recycling bin near their home.

The two brothers were each charged with murder.

Authorities say that besides Justin Robinson's admission, they didn't have physical evidence that established whether one or both of the brothers strangled the girl. Charges against Dante Robinson, 17, are still pending in juvenile court.

Complete coverage of the Autumn Pasquale case on Crimesider