The judge overseeing the case of two teenage brothers charged with murder in the strangulation of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale on Friday rejected a bid by the news media to gain access to the pair's Juvenile Court proceedings.
Superior Court Judge Colleen A. Maier announced her decision from the bench at a closed hearing attended by two lawyers representing news organizations.
Officials have not released the suspects' names, but residents of Clayton, where the brothers and their alleged victim lived, have identified them as Justin Robinson, 15, and his 17-year-old brother, Dante.
Prosecutors have filed motions seeking to have them tried as adults for murder.
Maier held a separate hearing Friday on the continued detention of the pair. No information was released following the hearing, although it was expected that she would order them to remain in custody.
Stephen DeFeo, a lawyer representing Interstate General Media, parent company of The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News; Gannett Co.; and the Associated Press, said the judge did not issue a written order.
Due to the judge's decision, he said, he could report only that the motion for media access to the suspects juvenile hearings had been denied.
No decision has been made on appealing the ruling.
If the ruling holds, reporters will not be allowed to attend hearings on the prosecution's motion to try them as adults. No date has been set for those proceedings.
Before Friday's hearings, supporters of Pasquale's family planted about two dozen lawn signs in the square in front of the Gloucester County Justice Complex in Woodbury. The blue and yellow signs featured a candle with the words "Autumn's Light" and listing a website, www.autumnpasquale.com.
"Autumn is never coming back to us, her family or the community," an uncle, Paul Spadafora, said in front of the courthouse. "Nevertheless, her spirit lives among us, and it is Autumn's light that will shine brightly forever in our hearts and our actions."
Her mother, Jennifer Cornwall, attended the detention hearing. Her father, Anthony Pasquale, did not. The couple are divorced.
Jaime Kaigh, a Westmont lawyer advising Cornwall, said the mother had no comment on Friday's proceedings.
Doug Long, a Woodbury lawyer advising the girl's father, had issued a statement saying Pasquale would not attend.
"With Christmas just two weeks away, it's an especially challenging time for the family, and Mr. Pasquale is trying his best to provide his surviving children with comfort and support," Long said.
Autumn Pasquale, a bicycle motocross enthusiast, disappeared Oct. 20 after she went to the Robinsons' home to exchange bike parts, according to authorities.
When she did not return home, her family reported her missing, and officials and area residents launched a major search.
Her body was found in a recycling container behind a home next to the Robinsons' residence on East Clayton Avenue on the night of Oct. 22. The brothers were arrested the next day.