Connecticut man convicted of murder in bullet-killing mother of two-time Puerto Rican Olympian

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant

A Connecticut man has been convicted of murder in the stray bullet killing of the mother of a two-time Olympic rifle shooter from Puerto Rico.

A jury found 40-year-old Franklin Robinson guilty of the death of Mabel Martinez Antongiorgi on Friday. The 56-year-old was in her sewing and craft room in Waterbury when a bullet flew through a wall and hit her in the head on April 9, 2022.

Martinez Antongiorgi’s daughter, Yarimar Mercado Martinez, competed in the 2016 Games and the pandemic-delayed 2020 Games to represent the family’s native Puerto Rico. The athlete was in Brazil for a competition when her mother was killed.

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A message requesting comment was sent to her on Saturday. At the time of her mother’s death, she agonized in social media posts that she “couldn’t even say goodbye.”

“Why you? Why this way? You were just sitting in your house sewing like you used to,” she wrote.

Yarimar Mercado Martinez, of Puerto Rico, competes in qualifying for the women’s 50-meter rifle three positions ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 11, 2016. A Connecticut jury found Franklin Robinson guilty on July 21, 2023 of the murder of Mabel Martinez Antongiorgi, the mother of Mercado Martinez. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

According to trial testimony, a jealous Robinson was on the hunt for a man who had said hi to Robinson’s girlfriend on an earlier day. After arguing with the man and some of his friends, Robinson lined up a few people he knew to help him go after the man.

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According to testimonies, the three shot down a parked car in Martinez Antongiorgi’s street, thinking the man was inside it. Another bystander was injured but survived.

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Robinson did not fire the fatal bullet, but he was charged with murder under legal principles that apply to conspirators. Prosecutors portrayed him as the leader of a deadly scheme by targeting the intended victim and enlisting help.

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His defense questioned the credibility of a key witness: Robinson’s now-former girlfriend, Emily Dyer.

“The case came down to whether the jury believed Emily Dyer or not, and clearly they did,” one of Robinson’s lawyers, attorneys Donald Meehan, told Waterbury’s Republican American.

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State Attorney’s Attorney Don Therkildsen said Martinez Antongiorgi and her family could “get justice,” police said.

Robinson faces sentencing on November 1.

Martinez Antongiorgi and her husband of more than 30 years, John Luis Mercado, moved to Waterbury from Puerto Rico a few years after the US territory endured devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017. At the time of her death, they had set a date to renew their wedding vows, their daughter wrote at the time.


Connecticut man convicted of murder in bullet-killing mother of two-time Puerto Rican Olympian

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