Kids Who Kill: Grieving Dad Believes Parents Should Be Held Criminally Responsible

Kids who kill are often whisked away to a juvenile correctional facility or tried as adults, if close enough to the age of a legal majority. But for one grieving father, that’s not good enough.

Anthony Pasquale, father of 12-year-old daughter Autumn, who was killed by a 15-year-old boy in 2012, is suing Justin Robinson’s parents for the crime their son committed, and believes they should be held criminally liable.

Anita Robinson Saunders, the perpetrator’s mother, was pleading for leniency for her son, who suffered from a physical deformity and was diagnosed with learning disabilities.

“My Justin [pictured above, right] is not a monster,” Saunders said at the September 2013 sentencing. “He is now a 16-year-old boy who was born with a physical deformity and who is emotionally and developmentally disabled. He is a respectful, loving child with a sense of humor and we love him.”

As far as leniency goes, Justin certainly got it. He pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter for strangling Autumn Pasquale to death, was shipped to a juvenile correctional facility, and could be out as early as his 30th birthday.

During Saunders’ plea, she pointed out that Justin’s violence “was a learned behavior” that he’d acquired from watching his estranged father strangle his mother (Saunders) and commit other acts of domestic violence.

It was this point that Anthony Pasquale seized upon when pursuing his lawsuit.

“My light bulb went off so fast when I heard that,” Anthony told Yahoo! News. “My lawyer was next to me and I said, ‘We have to do something about that.’ If it was a learned behavior, then teach a different behavior. If you taught your son to kill, then you need to be punished, too.”

The idea that kids who kill should have their sins fall on parents as well is not new. There has been a long, unsuccessful history throughout the courts system of trying to pin criminal charges on parents who raise killers.

That’s not going to stop Pasquale from trying, though. He currently has a petition with 12,000 signatures essentially agreeing with the ideology.

Pasquale believes that if parents know it’s their own freedom on the line, they’ll do a better job of parenting their children. However, opponents point out that it’s a slippery slope when you start criminally prosecuting bad parents.

In other words, who’s to say where the line is drawn? It is, however, difficult to see how parents with troubled children cannot see warning signs before they get out of control.

What do you think, readers? Should the parents of kids who kill be prosecuted?

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