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Man Indicted for Murder, Rape of Muslim Teen

  • VOA News

FILE - About 200 friends and supporters of Nabra Hassanen rallied at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, Oct. 13, 2017.

A man has been indicted on capital murder and rape charges in the killing of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, which shook Virginia's Muslim community.

A grand jury in Fairfax county held up indictments against 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, who was charged with murder after attacking Hassanen and her friends with a baseball bat. She and a group of teenagers had left their Sterling-area mosque between Ramadan prayers to get food when Hassanen was abducted. Her remains were found hours later in a pond in Sterling, Virginia.

Monday's ruling is the first indication that authorities believe Hassanen was raped before she was killed.

In the state of Virginia, prosecutors may pursue the death penalty under certain conditions, including if the murder was premeditated.

The trial was briefly suspended Friday for an emotional outburst from Hassanen's parents. Witnesses reported that her father, Mohmoud, yelled "You killed my daughter!" and her mother, Sawsan Gazzar, threw a shoe at Torres, after which deputies escorted the parents out and continued the hearing in a private room. Torres waived his right to a preliminary hearing and faced the grand jury Monday.

Hassanen's killing sparked outrage and solidarity on social media, with many activists calling on police to investigate it as a hate crime. Family members say Hassanen and other girls in her group were wearing hijab, Muslim head scarves, when the attack occurred. However, police and some witnesses said Torres appeared to be agitated by "road rage" and the murder was not investigated as a hate crime.

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