Darwin Martinez-Torres

Darwin Martinez-Torres

A northern Virginia man pleaded guilty Wednesday to raping and killing a Muslim teenager last year in a case that drew national attention for its brutality on a young victim who had been walking with friends to early-morning religious services.

The plea deal allows Darwin Martinez-Torres, 25, of Sterling to avoid a potential death penalty for the June 2017 murder of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.

She had been out with a group of friends eating a pre-dawn meal at a fast-food restaurant ahead of Ramadan services. Martinez-Torres was driving by and got into an altercation with the group.

 

Wednesday’s plea deal will mean Martinez-Torres gets life without parole when he is formally sentenced in March.

Nabra’s death attracted widespread attention, and thousands of mourners attended her funeral. There were concerns that her slaying was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, but police have said repeatedly they have no evidence of a hate crime.

Instead, police called it an incident of road rage.

In court Wednesday, prosecutor Casey Lingan said the attack began when Martinez-Torres drove by and honked his horn at one of Nabra’s friends who had been riding his bicycle in the road as they walked back to their mosque. The friend yelled back at Martinez-Torres, who started chasing the group, first in his car and then on foot.

Lingan said Nabra, who was wearing sandals, couldn’t run as fast the others, and Martinez-Torres caught up with her, wielding a baseball bat. A friend of Nabra’s described hearing a “thud and a metal ping” when she looked back. Some friends started to go back to help Nabra, but Lingan said Martinez-Torres scared them off with his bat.

Martinez-Torres, a native of El Salvador who federal immigration authorities have said is in the country illegally, was caught shortly after the attack. He initially denied attacking Nabra but quickly confessed under questioning from detectives. He told them that he “got out of control” and that after he first struck Nabra with the bat he “just kept thinking ugly things.”

He raped her while she lay unconscious and dumped her body in a pond.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh brought capital murder charges last year, and said he only agreed to take the death penalty off the table in Wednesday’s plea after consulting with the family, which indicated it would be satisfied with a life sentence.

Martinez-Torres’ lawyer, Joseph Flood, said his client has intellectual disabilities, and that his IQ is below 68. Morrogh acknowledged that if evidence of a severe intellectual disability were confirmed by an independent examiner, Martinez-Torres may well have been ineligible for a death sentence.

The plea deal carries an unusual provision that requires Martinez-Torres to answer any questions posed of him by the victim’s family over the next year. Nabra’s father, Mahmoud Hassanen, has been outspoken about his concerns that Nabra’s death may have been a hate crime. Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which provided legal assistance to the Hassanen family, said the provision is in place to allow the family to ask Martinez-Torres directly why he killed her.

Morrogh said after the hearing that he has only rarely included such a provision in a plea agreement, and he did so in this case because he understood the Hassanen family’s bewilderment at what could motivate such a crime.

“This is just such a random crime on such a loving, young person practicing her religion,” Morrogh said. “I hope something comes out of that part of the agreement.”

Nabra’s father fought back tears after the hearing and said he considers Nabra “to be a martyr in the eyes of God.”

(18) comments

LetFreedomRing

If our immigration laws were properly enforced, Nabra would still be alive. Thank the Democrats who fight unrelentingly to allow as many unvetted illegal immigrants into our country as possible.

amerigirl

I'm a democrat and you are wrong. Not a single dem I know wants illegals here, especially felons, and they all have been pushing for immigration control. Maybe you should stop taking Fox's word for it and get the facts. There is a big difference between those who come here illegally and those seeking amnesty.

LetFreedomRing

You’re right as always, amerigirl. I have my “facts” backwards. It’s the Republicans who creat sanctuary cities, oppose ICE and resist the border wall. My bad.

Duncan Idaho

Fake news.

More Cowbell

Not buying the first time for this guy. I'd wager he had done similar things, just not caught. They should hold a public hanging, this Sat for him. He raped and murdered someone for no reason. Shocked the media isn't making him out to be a victim as they usually do.

David Dickinson

Criminal alien. One of many. Liberal policies have consequences to law-abiding people.

amerigirl

What liberal policy is that? All bluster, no facts. Blame everything on liberals. I guess this keeps your life from being too complicated.

Duncan Idaho

To say nothing of US citizens killing each other because of easy access to guns. But that doesn't fit your narrative.

amerigirl

There is no liberal policy that accepts illegal aliens. Get the facts!

Chris McHale

He should be happy, he can stay in the US for the rest of his life.

semperfi1978

He now likely faces a life sentence. I heard on the radio that the plea deal includes some sort of sit down with the parents but I can't confirm this anywhere. Here is a couple more detailed articles: 

(Edited by staff.)

Waterfordresident

Shocker...they left out he is an illegal immigrant. Great job with the removal of this fact.

JTool

Read again. It's in the middle of the article.

mhubbard

Yep, and if the liberals would stop fighting and encourage enforcing our current immigration laws she would still be alive. AS far as I am concerned her blood is on the liberals hands also.

Mavericks30

mhubbard nailed it

ace10

Story has been edited.
Original version was soft on details.

amerigirl

mhubbard, why are you making up stories about liberals, is it just because you are so hateful? Liberals never said they want illegal aliens, they have said that those seeking asylum should be heard. In fact the dems have tried to get immigration legislation through congress, but guess who is blocking it?

amerigirl

Shocker, you don't have to be illegal to be a murderer. I'm surprised, but happy, that he can get up to 4 life sentences. They also claim his IQ is only in the 60's, that would make it hard to get the death penalty.

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