Suspect in brutal killing of Fairfax County Muslim girl to appear in court

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The man accused of abducting and brutally killing a 17-year-old Muslim girl as she walked to her Northern Virginia mosque with a group of friends in June is set to appear in Fairfax County court Friday afternoon.

Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Va., is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in the slaying of Nabra Hassanen. The killing generated national headlines and stirred fears she may have been targeted because of her religion.

Police have said that they have no evidence the case is a hate crime and that the killing probably was related to road rage.

The incident began when Nabra, of Reston, Va., and a group of up to 15 teens were returning to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque in Sterling after eating a meal at McDonald’s around 3:40 a.m. on June 18, police said. Pre-dawn meals are a popular way for young people to celebrate Ramadan at the mosque.

As the group walked down Dranesville Road, Torres approached in a red Pontiac and got into a verbal altercation with a teen on a bike, police said. Torres then drove his car over the curb and across a grassy area, chasing the teens.

Torres, a construction worker, caught up with the group a short time later in a parking lot, police said. They said he got out of his car and chased the teens with a baseball bat, allegedly hitting Nabra.

The teens scattered, and one looked back and saw Torres standing over Nabra as she lay on the ground, according to a search warrant recently unsealed in the case. None of the teens saw the South Lakes High School student again.

Nabra Hassanen, 17, was killed after services at the ADAMS mosque in Sterling, Va., on June 18, 2017.

Fairfax County police said Torres then put Nabra in his car and took her to Loudoun County, where he assaulted her again, killed her and dumped her body in a pond adjacent to the apartment complex where he lived.

Torres returned to the scene where Nabra was abducted, and his car was spotted by one of the teens in the group, according to the search warrant.

When a police officer approached the Pontiac and asked Torres to get out, he was not wearing shoes or a shirt, detectives wrote in the search warrant. The officers also discovered blood on the passenger-side door and back seat. Torres was taken into custody around 5:15 a.m., police said.

He later admitted his role in Nabra’s killing and led police to her body, according to the search warrant.

The killing drew an outpouring of grief across the country. Vigils were held in San Francisco, Philadelphia and elsewhere. Nabra’s funeral and a memorial event in Reston drew thousands of mourners.

Nabra’s family said they believe she was targeted because she was a Muslim, but police said there were no racial or religious slurs or other indications that would mark the attack as a hate crime.

Torres’s background of violence also has been a focus as the investigation continued. A woman in Loudoun County reported Torres had punched, choked and sexually assaulted her a week before Nabra’s killing, according to two people familiar with her account. But the woman declined to pursue charges.

Detectives with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office also filed a search warrant that was recently unsealed that sought Torres’s high school records for clues to why he might have targeted Nabra.

The search warrant states Torres had violent incidents while at Park View and Potomac Falls high schools in Loudoun County. A relative of Torres said he had a 4-year-old child.

Mohmoud Hassanen, Nabra’s father, told The Post in June that he and his eldest daughter were always close: “She used to be like my friend, not my daughter.”

They would eat out together and talk about music, fashion and friends.

“I don’t want any family to feel like what I feel now,” Hassanen said. “It’s too hard. I raised my daughter for 17 years. Somebody took her life for no reason.”

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