Feds Won’t Pursue Charges in Death of US Tourist at Mexican Villa

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
April 13, 2023US News
Feds Won’t Pursue Charges in Death of US Tourist at Mexican Villa
The FBI seal is pictured in Omaha, Neb., on Aug. 10, 2022. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

Prosecutors will not pursue federal charges in connection to the death of a 25-year-old American woman who died last year while vacationing with friends in Mexico, officials announced on Wednesday.

In a statement released on April 12, the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) met with the family of Shanquella Robinson to present the findings of the investigation into the North Carolina woman’s death.

The FBI said they are unable to support a federal prosecution based on autopsy results and after reviewing all available investigative materials with attorneys from two districts in North Carolina.

Robinson, an entrepreneur from Charlotte, was seen brutally beaten in a viral video last fall at a resort development in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. As the video circulated on social media, it raised suspicions that Robinson may have been killed by her travel companions.

Local prosecutors in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur filed charges late last year against another American woman, whom they would not name, suspected of killing Robinson in late October.

They issued an arrest warrant for the suspect, but she had already left Mexico with other travel companions after Robinson was found dead in a rented villa. Since then, Mexican federal prosecutors are trying to get her extradited to face charges in Mexico.

Autopsy Results Show ‘Discrepancies’

An autopsy conducted by the medical examiner’s office in Mecklenburg County—which has not been released publicly—revealed inconsistencies with a previous autopsy conducted in Mexico, attorneys for the victim’s family said in a joint statement.

“These discrepancies can be credited to the delay in investigation by U.S. officials, who conducted a second autopsy once Shanquella’s body was embalmed,” attorneys Ben Crump and Sue-Ann Robinson said. “When an investigation is delayed, the hard evidence to support prosecution diminishes, but in this case, that is due to the U.S. not considering this case to be a high priority.”

According to the joint statement, citing Mexican prosecutors, one of Robinson’s friends “was the direct aggressor of her death.”

At first, Robinson’s friends claimed that she died of alcohol poisoning, but autopsy results from Mexican authorities revealed several days after her death that the cause was “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation.”

“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,” the attorneys stated in the release.

“We hope that there is still a chance at justice in Mexico,” they added. “Mexican prosecutors have issued arrest warrants in this case and are willing to pursue charges. We strongly encourage The United States to move forward with the extradition of those responsible for her death to Mexico to face accountability there.”

Letter to Biden

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, meanwhile, addressed Robinson’s death during a news conference in March after being asked about a letter (pdf) Crump sent to President Joe Biden requesting “immediate diplomatic intervention” from the U.S. government in the transnational criminal case.

“Our hearts go out to Ms. Robinson’s family and friends,” Jean-Pierre said. “It is devastating what occurred. And certainly, the tragedy is just devastating. We’ve been following the news here. But because there’s an FBI investigation … there’s very little about what we can say.”

In Crump’s March 13 letter, the attorney called on Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to extradite one of Robinson’s six travel companions, Dejahanae Jackson, who was allegedly seen in the viral clip brutally beating Robinson in the villa in Mexico.

The Department of Justice noted on Wednesday that federal officials generally don’t issue public statements in connection to the status of an investigation. However, given public concern, the department found it “important to reassure the public that experienced federal agents” have reviewed available evidence before concluding that no federal charges will be pursued in the case.

The Department of Justice added that they will review and examine any new information that becomes available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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