Olympic rifle shooter Yarimar Mercado Martínez’s mother, Mabel Martínez Antongiorgi, was struck inside her home during a jealousy-induced shooting
After becoming enraged that another man had said “hello,” to his then-girlfriend, Franklin Robinson rounded up a crew of men with guns this past April and went looking for the man, witnesses told a Connecticut jury who went on to convict Robinson of murder in July.
Mabel Martínez Antongiorgi, 56, was sewing in her crafts room at home in Waterbury, Conn., when she was fatally struck in the head by a stray bullet fired in the violence.
Connecticut Judge Brian Preleski sentenced Robinson to 90 years behind bars Wednesday, the AP reported, for his part in the killing of the mother of Puerto Rico’s two-time rifle shooting Olympian, Yarimar Mercado Martínez.
“Why you? Why this way? You were just sitting in your little house sewing, as you always did,” Mercado Martínez wrote in Spanish in a social media post at the time, per the AP. She added: “There are so many things I still needed to learn from you ... I was so far away without being able to do anything, I couldn’t even say goodbye to you.”
The Olympian, who had competed for Puerto Rico in the 2016 and 2020 Games, had been participating in another competition in Brazil when her mother was fatally struck, the AP reported.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Martínez Antongiorgi had moved with her husband, John Luis Mercado, from Puerto Rico to Waterbury, Conn. The couple, who had been married for more than three decades, were planning to renew their wedding vows when she was killed, the Olympian previously shared on social media, per the AP.
On her mother's birthday this past September, Mercado Martínez shared a memory of learning how to cook guanimos con bacalao (a typical Puerto Rican boiled cornmeal dish wrapped in cornhusks and served with cod) – the last meal they shared before her mother's killing, adding in Spanish: "Love a lot and value it because life is fragile and tomorrow is not certain."
The Puerto Rico Shooting Association helped pay for funeral costs, which included transporting her mother’s body back to Puerto Rico, per the AP.
The April 9, 2022 shooting spree started on Martínez Antongiorgi’s block, when the men fired bullets into a white Acura parked nearby, believing the man who they believed had flirted with his girlfriend was inside, the AP and The Republican-American reported from the summer trial.
In the ensuing chaos, another bystander sustained a non-fatal wound, according to the Republican-American.
Although Robinson did not fire the bullet that killed Martínez Antongiorgi, prosecutors applied a conspiracy charge to his indictment, naming him the “ringleader” of the fatal plan, per the AP and the Republican-American.
During the trial, Robinson’s now-ex girlfriend, Emily Dyer, testified as a cooperating witness for the prosecution, explaining the backstory of the shooting, which sealed Robinson’s fate, one of his lawyers, Donald Meehan previously told the Republican-American. (PEOPLE could not reach Meehan for an interview Thursday.)
Robinson’s conviction – on two counts of murder and one count each of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault and criminal possession of a firearm – carried up to 130 years in prison, per the Republican-American.
Robinson had previously been offered a plea deal to serve 40 years in prison. Meehan told the AP in an email following his 90-year sentence that his client had suffered a “severe trial tax” for choosing to go on trial.
The other two men allegedly involved in the shooting are still awaiting trial, the AP reported.
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