Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder of Muslim Teen

The 17-year-old high school student was killed during Ramadan as she headed to a mosque

What to Know

  • Hassanen, who was 17, was beaten to death in June 2017 as she was returning to a mosque in Sterling, Virginia
  • Darwin Martinez-Torres pleaded guilty to murder and rape charges
  • Police initially said Martinez Torres lashed out in a case of road rage, but the victim's family believes her killing was a bias crime

A Northern Virginia man received four life sentences without the possibility of parole for raping and killing a Muslim teenager as she walked back to a mosque with friends for pre-dawn religious services.

Darwin Martinez-Torres of Sterling struck a plea bargain last year in the June 2017 slaying of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston. That plea bargain required the judge to impose a sentence of life without parole, in exchange for eliminating a potential death sentence.

Hassanen was beaten to death as she returned to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling, Virginia during Ramadan.

Torres attacked a group of Muslim teens as they were walking back to the mosque after picking up food at a nearby shopping center, police said. He drove his car over the curb and the teens scattered. According to police, Torres allegedly grabbed Hassanen, hit her with a baseball bat, raped her, killed her and dumped her body in a pond.

Hassanen's father, Mohmod Hassanen, wept as he spoke outside court in November after Torres pleaded guilty. 

"I remember her every day. Every single day," he said. 

Torres was pleaded guilty on multiple charges related to the murder and rape. Police initially said Martinez Torres lashed out in a case of road rage, but the victim's family believes her killing was a bias crime.

The case drew international attention, with some using the hashtag #JusticeforNabra. Vigils for Hassanen were held across the U.S.

In an unusual part of Torres' plea agreement, he agreed to answer any questions Hassanen's family has about her murder. 

Prosecutors sought during hearings to tie Torres to the gang MS-13. Torres is undocumented, and ICE placed a detainer on him after his arrest.

His mental abilities were expected to be a key part of court arguments in his defense, and the judge in May appointed brain experts to evaluate Torres.

Correction (7:59 a.m., March 28, 2019): A previous version of this article misstated when Mohmod Hassanen made comments on the case.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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