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U.S. authorities will not pursue charges in death of Shanquella Robinson

Prosecutors in the United States will not bring charges in what was previously a federal investigation into the death of Shanquella Robinson, a woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, while in Mexico last October.

Officials with U.S. Attorneys' Offices in two districts in North Carolina announced the decision in a statement on Wednesday, issued shortly before the woman's family members were scheduled to speak about the probe and Robinson's killing at a televised news conference.

"The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Robinson has been a priority for federal prosecutors and the FBI," read the statement issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the western district of North Carolina. 

"As in every case under consideration for federal prosecution, the government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a federal crime was committed," it continued. "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 killing of Shanquella Robinson was being investigated as a femicide, an unfamiliar term for many in the United States as this gender-motivated crime has not been defined by U.S. legislation despite being a global issue. CBS News

Citing "a detailed and thorough investigation" and an autopsy conducted by the medical examiner's office in North Carolina's Mecklenburg County, officials said they found that "the available evidence does not support a federal prosecution."

Speaking on behalf of Robinson's family at Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon, attorney Sue Ann Robinson said they were "disappointed but not deterred" by the outcome of the U.S. investigation and would continue to seek justice in the wake of the killing.

The attorney also shared that the decision by U.S. authorities not to press charges partly relied on results of the domestic autopsy, following an initial autopsy conducted in Mexico. The U.S. post mortem exam was conducted after Robinson's body had been embalmed and transported back to America, "which means that there was a delay, obviously," the attorney said, adding that it ruled Robinson's cause of death "undetermined."

Federal prosecutors and authorities at the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a probe into the circumstances surrounding Robinson's death in November, about three weeks after it happened, the FBI confirmed in a statement to CBS News at the time. According to that statement, Robinson died "on or about" Oct. 29 in Cabo San Lucas. The previous week, authorities in Mexico had said that her death occurred in San Jose del Cabo, located about 20 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas in the same Mexican state of Baja California Sur.

Mexican prosecutors opened an investigation into Robinson's death a few days earlier. By then, news of her killing had garnered considerable public and global attention owing to a viral cell phone video that showed Robinson being violently assaulted, apparently at the luxury villa where she was staying while on vacation. She had traveled from the U.S. to Mexico with a group of six friends, some of whom initially told Robinson's parents that she had died from alcohol poisoning. However, the death certificate later listed a spinal and neck injury as the cause.

The attorney for Robinson's family said on Wednesday that the U.S. autopsy did not identify a spinal cord injury, although she called it "disheartening" that U.S. authorities "allowed there to be such a delay in this case" and noted that delays can lead to "discrepancies." She told reporters that civil action is "certainly" a possibility for Robinson's family moving forward.

Authorities in Mexico said in November that they were investigating Robinson's death as a femicide, a crime that refers to the killing of a woman because of her gender. In a statement released at the time, prosecutors in Baja California Sur said they were seeking to extradite a woman from the U.S. back to Mexico in connection with the alleged murder.

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