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Federal Charges 'Cannot Be Pursued' In Shanquella Robinson’s Mexico Death, DOJ Says
"We're disappointed but we're not deterred," Shanquella Robinson’s family lawyer said.
Federal prosecutors won’t pursue charges in the mysterious death of a North Carolina woman who died while traveling in Mexico last year, officials said this week.
The Department of Justice said Wednesday there’s not sufficient evidence to seek charges related to the death of Shanquella Robinson following an autopsy on the 25-year-old, who died on a group vacation in Cabo in October.
Federal officials announced that investigators had “concluded that federal charges cannot be pursued” in Robinson’s death. The announcement came after U.S. authorities carried out a new autopsy on the North Carolina woman at a Medical Examiner’s Office in Mecklenburg County.
“Based on the results of the autopsy and after a careful deliberation and review of the investigative materials by both U.S. Attorneys' Offices, federal prosecutors informed Ms. Robinson's family today that the available evidence does not support a federal prosecution,” the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina said in a statement on April 12.
The Department of Justice insisted the “detailed and thorough investigation” into Robinson’s death had been a “top priority” for federal investigators and the FBI.
“The death of Ms. Robinson has been incredibly difficult for her family and the community,” the statement added. “However, given the circumstances of Ms. Robinson’s death and the public concern surrounding this investigation, it is important to reassure the public that experienced federal agents and seasoned prosecutors extensively reviewed the available evidence and have concluded that federal charges cannot be pursued.”
Prosecutors’ cryptic statement on the federal investigation into Robinson’s death, however, didn’t stipulate her possible cause or manner of death, or what specific evidence, or lack thereof, had led to the decision.
Lawyers for the Robinson family, however, acknowledged Wednesday that the U.S. autopsy did not find conclusive evidence of a spinal cord injury, refuting previous post-mortem findings in Mexico, according to CBS News.
Oxygen.com has reached out to the Department of Justice and the FBI for further comment.
How did Shanquella Robinson die?
The circumstances surrounding Shanquella Robinson’s death are extremely murky.
On Oct. 29, 2022, the 25-year-old was found dead at a hotel in a resort town along the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, according to an Associated Press report.
Robinson’s friends, who she’d been traveling with, had initially told her family that she’d died of alcohol poisoning. An initial autopsy, however, later indicated she’d died of a severe spinal cord injury.
"They said she wasn't feeling well. She had alcohol poisoning," Robinson’s mother, Sallamondra Robinson, told Queen City News at the time. "They couldn't get a pulse. Each one of the people that was there with her was telling different stories.”
A video, however, later surfaced, which was widely circulated online, showing Robinson being violently beaten by an unknown individual at the upscale villa. The perpetrator appeared to be a woman. The cell phone footage subsequently went viral. Officials were unable to confirm at the time whether the beating was directly connected to the Charlotte woman’s death.
Nonetheless, the recording inflamed the suspicions and growing frustration of Robinson’s loved ones, who had begged U.S. authorities to intervene in the case.
“The video is sickening,” Robinson’s sister, Quilla Long, told ABC News in November 2022.
The suspected assault occurred on Oct. 29, just one day after Robinson and her group had arrived in the Mexican resort town, her grieving mother told "Good Morning America."
What have authorities said about the case?
Shortly after, Mexican authorities declared they were investigating Robinson’s death as a homicide. The State Attorney's Office of Baja California said at the time that Robinson's death was being investigated as femicide, or "the gender-based murder of a woman."
Baja California Sur prosecutor Daniel de la Rosa Anaya later issued an arrest warrant requesting an unidentified suspect's extradition from the United States.
Three weeks after Robinson’s death, federal prosecutors and the FBI announced they’d launched a probe into her death.
Federal officials said at that time that Robinson had died "on or about" Oct. 29 in Cabo San Lucas. It was a flip-flop from an earlier statement from Mexican investigators, which had indicated Robinson’s death had actually taken place in San Jose del Cabo, roughly 20 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas. Both cities are in the same state of Baja California Sur.
Robinson’s family has since expressed disappointment in the latest autopsy findings and the federal government’s decision to not pursue criminal charges. The family’s legal team called the case’s recent legal developments “disheartening.” Attorney Sue-Ann Robinson specifically bemoaned alleged “delays” in the case, which she inferred could have led to “discrepancies.”
"We're disappointed but we're not deterred," Robinson family lawyer Sue-Ann Robinson said at a news briefing on Wednesday, per Charlotte television station WSOC-TV. "It's not something that's unexpected. Black and Brown people have always had to carve their own path to justice and we've been doing that since the beginning."
In a separate joint statement from Sue-Ann Robinson and fellow attorney, Ben Crump, who is also representing the Robinsons, the family’s legal team voiced disappointment that an “aggressor” wasn’t charged in the case. They insisted “justice is still possible.”
"While it is discouraging for the loved ones of Shanquella that their own Department of Justice will not be pursuing charges against Shanquella's aggressor, it is our stance that justice is still possible for her death," they said. "We hope that there is still a chance at justice in Mexico."