FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A Fairfax County grand jury indicted a man on capital murder and rape charges in the killing of a 17-year-old girl whose death rattled Northern Virginia’s Muslim community.
The Fairfax County Circuit Court panel handed up indictments Monday against Darwin Martinez-Torres, 22. State law allows prosecutors to pursue the death penalty under certain conditions, including premeditated murder during a rape.
Monday’s indictment is the first time that authorities have said that they believe Nabra Hassanen of Reston was raped; police previously said they were investigating the possibility.
Martinez-Torres faces eight counts in total including several related to two acts of sexual assault plus abduction with intent to defile.
Police say Martinez-Torres encountered Hassanen among a group of teenagers as they walked to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque, where they were attending an all-night sleepover event during Ramadan. Authorities have said that Martinez-Torres got into a confrontation with some of the teens, and chased them. Police say Martinez-Torres caught Hassanen and bludgeoned her with a bat. A search warrant says Martinez-Torres dumped her body in a lake in nearby Sterling.
Police have said that they found no evidence that Nabra was killed because of her religion and said previously that road rage led to the attack.
Martinez-Torres is a citizen of El Salvador. Federal immigration authorities placed a detainer on him following his initial arrest. The detainer indicates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials believe there is probable cause to remove him from the country.
His next court hearing is set for Thursday.
Martinez-Torres appeared in court last week during an emotional hearing that was delayed after Nabra’s mother threw a shoe at her daughter’s attacker, threatening to kill him. It was the first face-to-face encounter between the Hassanen family and Martinez-Torres. Supporters gathered outside the courthouse calling for justice.
WTOP’s Amanda Iacone and Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.
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