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Prosecutors Want The Death Penalty For The Man Accused Of Killing 17-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen

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The man accused of abducting and killing 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen as she walked home from her mosque in Reston, VA., over the summer may face the death penalty, reports the Washington Post. Fairfax County officials have decided to pursue the death penalty against, Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, after the grand jury indicted him. 

Fairfax County Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh (D) announced the decision on Monday, saying “You conform the charges to what the evidence will show. It is my intention to seek the death penalty." The charges include capital murder and rape, among others in connection with Nabra’s death.

Morrogh didn’t say anything else to the Post about it because the case is still pending. However, this is the first time that authorities on the case indicated they believed it was possible Nabra was sexually assaulted when she was attacked June 18

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Nabra’s killing almost immediately started a wave of vigils across the U.S. when it happened, with many worrying she was targeted because of her faith. There has been no evidence she was a victim of a hate crime, according to police and prosecutors, but the concern remains.

The preliminary hearing on Friday was reportedly tense with about 250 of Nabra’s supporters showing up, some of them wearing white t-shirts that said “Justice for Nabra.” The hearing had to be temporarily delayed, as emotions ran high. Mahmoud Hassanen, Nabra’s father, reportedly lunged at Torres yelling, “You killed my daughter!” and her mother, Sawsan, threw a shoe at him. Ultimately, Torres waived the the hearing when it was able to resume about an hour later and that sent the case to the grand jury. A Fairfax County judge will reportedly set the trial date for Torres on Thursday.

Even after the hearing, dozens of Nabra’s supporters remained and they got together outside the Fairfax County courthouse. They still wore their t-shirts and held signs with pictures of her in a hijab. When asked, some of them said they believed her death was a hate crime.

While Police had previously said the crime was spawned by road rage, the Hassanens said they still believe it was a hate crime and that Nabra was targeted as a Muslim woman.

“The reason this guy he hit my daughter is because she’s Muslim,” Mahmoud Hassanen told WAMU.org.

WAMU.org also reports that Mahmoud Hassanen has been working on a memorial nearby the mosque that Nabra was leaving when she was abducted, adorning the site with balloons, a sign and fresh flowers to hopefully draw attention to the hearings surrounding her murder.

“I already have balloons, and the sign for her. Now I’m going to put the big American flag next to where she got killed,” Hassanen said. “I just want people to remember her, and don’t forget her. I think nobody can forget her too, for what she did in her life.”

Hassanen also told WAMU a bit more about Nabra and how she lived her life. He said he'll always remember her smile and recalls how he would carry loose change whenever they went out because she always wanted to give money to homeless people. 

Hassanen said that on the day she was killed, she and her friends were going to share dinner (breaking fast together during Ramadan) after heading to the mosque for services. 

“She hugged me, and kissed me, and she just…go,” Hassanen said. “If I knew this was going to be the last time…I wouldn’t let her go out.”


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