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Va. man pleads guilty to rape and murder of teen girl on Ramadan

Darwin Martinez-Torres, pleaded guilty to raping and killing 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen in 2017 as she walked back to a mosque ahead of Ramadan services.

WASHINGTON — The Northern Virginia man accused of raping and killing a teen girl pleaded guilty to all eight counts Wednesday morning in Fairfax County court.

Darwin Martinez-Torres, of Sterling, was charged with capital murder in the 2017 slaying of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, who was killed as she walked back to a mosque with friends after a pre-dawn, fast-food meal ahead of Ramadan services.

Martinez-Torres’ family cried as he, clad in a green jumpsuit, repeated his plea to the judge for each count. One of his lawyers kept their hand on his back as he pleaded.

He faces four life sentences.

Hassanen’s family and friends filled an entire row of the court. Several friends had to leave during the hearing.

Her death received widespread attention amid concerns that her slaying was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, though police have said repeatedly they have no evidence of a hate crime.

A death sentence is off table, which is in line with the family’s wishes.

The plea agreement does allow the Hassanen family to ask Martinez-Torres directly why he did it.

Gadeir Abbas, with the National Association of Muslim Lawyers and the Council on American–Islamic Relations, says they expect Martinez-Torres to be sentenced to life without parole.

“He will be in prison for the remainder of his days,” Abbas said. “And that’s justice for Nabra.”

“It was an honor and a privilege to work with this family,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh.

Hassanen’s friends described running from Martinez-Torres, who they say was wielding a metal bat.

They “heard a thud and a ping” and looked back to see Hassanen on ground with Martinez-Torres over her.

She was later found floating in a Loudoun County pond.

Hassanen’s father, Mohmod Hassanen, wiped away tears with a handkerchief while hearing the details of his daughter’s death.

“You just want to know why but some people just do wicked and evil things sometimes,” Morrogh said. “This crime stood out as just a really horrific and brutal crime.”

“I don’t know that there’s any comfort here for anybody but life without parole is not a light sentence,” he continued. “I’ve never seen a good murder but this one’s worse than most.”

During the hearing, the defense said that Martinez-Torres’ IQ was 68 or less.

When asked if the prosecution could have even pursued the death penalty, given that information, Morrogh said: “That would have been a hotly litigated issue in the case because under the current law, and for good reason, it’s not legal to … give the death penalty to someone who’s intellectually disabled.”

But he said if the case had gone to trial, they would have explored the issue.

Martinez-Torres is expected to be sentenced Mar. 28.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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