FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia man accused of killing a 17-year-old Muslim girl as she walked back to her mosque is now facing a possible death penalty after an indictment Monday charging him with capital murder and rape.
A grand jury has formally charged a 22-year-old man with capital murder and rape in the death of Nabra Hassanen, who was killed on her walk back to a Virginia mosque.
The Fairfax County Circuit Court indicted Darwin Martinez-Torres of Sterling, Virginia, on Monday on four counts of capital murder for killing Nabra, who was with friends while they had a meal before Ramadan services. Dozens of people had gathered outside the courthouse today, chanting “Justice for Nabra.”
Police had said previously they were investigating whether Nabra had been sexually assaulted, but Monday’s indictment is the first time that prosecutors brought sex-crime charges of any kind against Martinez-Torres.
Shortly after Martinez-Torres was arrested, ICE placed a detainer on the DREAM Act recipient from Salvador.
Darwin Martinez Torres, indicted on murder, rape & sodomy charges, faces a death penalty case. pic.twitter.com/eMjbKrmxHu
— Richard Reeve (@abc7Richard) October 16, 2017
Police say Martinez-Torres encountered the group and got into a confrontation with some of the kids who had been in the roadway. Martinez-Torres chased after the group and caught Hassanen, at one point bludgeoning her with a baseball bat, police said.
In a search warrant affidavit, police say Martinez-Torres admitted killing Nabra and that he led them to where he had dumped her body in a nearby pond.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, is representing Nabra’s family. CAIR lawyer Gadeir Abbas said the family “is focused on ensuring that there is justice for Nabra and that the murderer is held accountable for his crimes. This tragedy has affected the family, but also the Muslim community across the country, coming as it did during Ramadan when the kids were gathering at the mosque to socialize and for prayer.”
Some Muslim activists called for hate-crime charges. Police and prosecutors said they have seen no evidence of anti-Muslim bias that would warrant such a charge.