CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The State Attorney General's office of Baja California Sur (PGJE) has issued an arrest warrant in the femicide case of 25-year-old Shanquella Robinson.
Robinson was on vacation with her friends in Mexico at the time of her death.
Mexican authorities have made it clear following their investigation that this was not an accident but a direct attack on Robinson.
Robinson died in Cabo during a trip with a group of six friends on Oct. 29. Her family said the friends claimed it was because of alcohol poisoning.
Despite various accounts of what happened to Robinson, a death certificate found she died 15 minutes after suffering a broken neck and severe spinal cord injury.
Attorney James Exum, of Williams and Exum, said despite various accounts of her death, that is the most reliable.
“With the medical side, and I do [cases on] homicides… that's what you can rely on more than anything else because that's just science,” Exum said.
After a video, which WCNC Charlotte has chosen not to air, showed Robinson being violently attacked by a woman during the trip, an investigation was opened.
PGJE is pursuing femicide charges, according to the release sent by the agency.
Exum said femicide is when a woman is killed. In the U.S. it would be equivalent to homicide.
“On that type of offense, the person faces between 40 years minimum to 60 years maximum,” he added. “There are some statutes where they've tried to enhance that to 45 to 65.”
Mexican authorities also announced extradition procedures have already started.
“Mexico and their particular governmental unit would have to reach out to the state's federal government, explain why they want that person, and get clearance,” Exum explained. “Then the United States will, in some manner, work with them to bring that person to custody.”
The agency did not identify a person by name but does add the investigation remains open as they continue to look into anyone else’s involvement in her death, and the participation of any cover-ups or any omission of vital information to this case.
“When there's an investigation going on, and you make statements, and they are false, which causes law enforcement to go off on the wrong trail, if you will -- you have legally obstructed justice," Exum explained.
He said more charges could be filed not only in Mexico but here in the U.S.
“Any role that anybody played, they are likely to have to deal with some level of prosecution in Mexico as it relates to this, or potentially in the states, again, if any of those crimes happened on American soil," he said.
He expects more people to be prosecuted.
“The fact that they left Mexico under the guise that she died from alcohol poisoning, and it's clear that it's not that… then once you left Mexico to come here, that could be an issue because you know, you can do it by commission or omission," Exum said.
The FBI Charlotte field office also opened its own investigation.
“If there's evidence that there was some plan before they got to Mexico, yeah, that would be a problem,” he adds. “Once you're back on U.S. soil, to the extent that there's an investigation here, and you lie about it, you conceal things, you try to run, those could all be things that create charges against you here.”
Shanquella Robinson's final moments
Multiple attempts by a doctor to revive Robinson were unsuccessful before she was pronounced dead in Mexico, a police report shared by the MetropoliMx news outlet states.
Dr. Karolina Beatriz Ornelas Guitierrez, of the American Medical Center, responded to a request for help at the home Robinson was staying at with the others a little after 2 p.m. on Oct. 29. When Gutierrez arrived, she was told Robinson had been drinking excessively and needed an IV.
Gutierrez wanted to take Robinson, who was still alive, to the hospital for treatment. Her friends refused, saying she could be treated at the home. Robinson was stable but extremely dehydrated, according to the doctor, who said she went into convulsions around 4:20 p.m. It was at this time that one of Robinson's friends, identified as Wenter Donovan, called 911 to get an ambulance.
While waiting for the ambulance, Robinson was struggling to breathe and her pulse was dropping. Gutierrez last felt a pulse at 4:49 p.m. and started CPR with the help of Robinson's friends until the ambulance arrived. The doctor attempted 14 sessions of CPR and gave Robinson five doses of adrenaline and six electric shocks with a defibrillator without success. Gutierrez declared Shanquella Robinson dead at 5:57 p.m.
Mexican police responded to a call to assist medics at the home around 5:30 p.m. When they arrived, they spoke to the doctor who attempted to revive Robinson about what happened. The doctor alleged Robinson's friends refused to let her be taken to the hospital at the first sign of convulsions.
The timeline of these events doesn't line up with Robinson's death certificate, which states she died within 15 minutes of suffering a severe spinal cord injury and a broken neck.
Remembering Shanquella Robinson
Hundreds of people attended Robinson's funeral at Charlotte's Macedonia Baptist Church on Nov. 19. Family members wore pink in her honor, as well as bracelets and pins with Robinson's photo. Hundreds more showed up to support the family, demanding justice in what they believe is an unsolved murder.
“It means a lot to see Charlotte supporting her and her family," Tawanna Butler said. "I have a daughter and I have nieces. It is just sad. I came here to show support and be in solidarity, to show this is not OK.
Robinson's death has garnered national attention, with a nationwide call for justice on social media. Many people have used the hashtag #JusticeForShanquella in hopes her story will reach national headlines.
"That child was among friends and she should have been able to feel comfortable and feel safe, and not this," Butler said. "This should not have happened."
A GoFundMe page for the family has raised over $369,000 as of Nov. 23. That includes a notable donation from NBA player Kyrie Irving, who gave $65,000 as a show of support.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said they are not involved at all in the investigation. WCNC Charlotte has worked to track down the friends who Robinson traveled with; they have either offered no comment or have left the area and can no longer be reached.
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