Capital murder charges filed in Muslim teen's death

  • Darwin Martinez-Torres, 22, was indicted by a Virginia grand jury on Monday 
  • He is accused of raping and killing 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen back in June
  • She had been eating a meal with friends ahead of pre-dawn Ramadan services and was returning to her mosque when she was bludgeoned with a baseball bat
  • Police say Martinez-Torres admitted to killing Nabra and that he led them to where he had dumped her body in a nearby pond
  • The teenager died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck

By Associated Press

Published: 15:05 EDT, 16 October 2017 | Updated: 18:42 EDT, 16 October 2017

A 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 he was indicted on capital murder and rape charges.

Darwin Martinez-Torres, 22, was indicted by a grand jury on Monday over the June slaying of Nabra Hassanen in Sterling, Virginia.

The teenager had been out with friends eating a meal ahead of pre-dawn Ramadan services and was returning to her mosque when she was bludgeoned with a baseball bat. 

Police had said previously they were investigating whether Hassanen had been sexually assaulted, but Monday's indictment is the first time that prosecutors brought sex-crime charges of any kind against Martinez-Torres. 

Nabra Hassanen
Nabra Hassanen
Darwin Martinez-Torres
Darwin Martinez-Torres

Darwin Martinez-Torres, 22, (right) was indicted by a grand jury on Monday over the June slaying of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen (left) in Sterling, Virginia

The seven-count indictment handed up Monday includes four counts of capital murder, spelling out in sometimes graphic detail the ways in which prosecutors believe the slaying qualifies for the death penalty. 

Virginia law allows prosecutors to pursue a death penalty only under certain conditions. Those include murder in the commission of a rape and murder during an abduction with intent to defile. 

Police have said Hassanen was out with a group of more than a dozen friends at about 3.40am on June 18. The group was walking back to their mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, after eating at a McDonald's ahead of a daylong fast for Ramadan.

Nabra and a group of about 15 friends were dressed in abayas, or robe-like dresses worn by some Muslim women. Her mother said she didn't usually opt for traditional Muslim clothes but was wearing one that night for the overnight prayer service. 

Martinez-Torres encountered the group and got into a confrontation with some of the teens who had been on the roadway. 

Mahmoud Hassanen and his wife Sawsan Gazzar hold a sign in support of the search for justice for their daughter Nabra Hassanen
Mahmoud Hassanen and his wife Sawsan Gazzar hold a sign in support of the search for justice for their daughter Nabra Hassanen

Mahmoud Hassanen and his wife Sawsan Gazzar hold a sign in support of the search for justice for their daughter Nabra Hassanen

The teenager had been out with friends eating a meal ahead of pre-dawn Ramadan services and was returning to her mosque when she was bludgeoned with a baseball bat

He then started chasing after the group, according to police.

Nabra is believed to have tripped on the hem of her robe as she was running and fell, causing Martinez-Torres to catch her.

Martinez-Torres allegedly the bludgeoned her with a baseball bat.

In a search warrant affidavit, police say Martinez-Torres admitted to killing Nabra and that he led them to where he had dumped her body in a nearby pond.

She died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to the medical examiner.  

During a court appearance last week, deputies had to restrain Nabra's parents when Martinez-Torres appeared before the judge.

The slain girl's father Mohmoud Hassanen had to be held back as he shouted: 'You killed my daughter.' 

Her mother, Sawsan Gazzar, threw a shoe at him, shouting: 'I'll kill you!'

After the brief hearing ended, about 200 people demonstrated outside under the US flag, calling for 'Justice for Nabra'.

Hundreds of friends and supporters of Nabra Hassanen hold a rally outside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Fairfax during a pretrial hearing last week
Hundreds of friends and supporters of Nabra Hassanen hold a rally outside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Fairfax during a pretrial hearing last week

Hundreds of friends and supporters of Nabra Hassanen hold a rally outside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Fairfax during a pretrial hearing last week

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