Sex assault could elevate Nabra Hassanen case to death penatly

The death penalty may be on the table for Darwin Martinez Torres, the man who murdered 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen.

ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) - An autopsy report should reveal whether 17-year-old  Nabra Hassanen was sexually assaulted before she was murdered on Sunday. 

If it turns out she was, prosecutors could add capital murder to the charges.

A capital murder charge could elevate, which means you could face the death penalty. The commonwealth's attorney said that if she was sexually assaulted, he will consider elevating the charges to capital murder and will consider the death penalty.

The murder of an innocent teenage girl, attacked while walking to her mosque, has touched a nerve across the country.  Hundreds came out to remember Nabra Hassanen at a vigil Wednesday. 

RELATED: Hundreds attend vigil for slain Muslim teen Nabra Hassanen

Twenty-two-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres has been charged with her murder. Police and witnesses say he used his car to chase her friends. Then He allegedly assaulted Nabra, took her to a pond in Loudoun county, where it's believed he assaulted her again and killed her. She may have been sexually assaulted.

"We have to await forensic examination results and the report from autopsy from the medical examiner to confirm whether or not that took place," said Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler. 

Criminal Defense Attorney Joe King explains that a sexual assault can be "an aggravating factor that could elevate the Murder charge to a capital murder charge where the Defendent potentially faces the death penalty."

Another aggravating factor in this case could be a possible abduction with intent to defile charge. That was an aggravating charge Jesse Matthew face in the murders of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington.  To avoid the death penalty, he pleaded guilty and is serving life behind bars. 

Darwin Martinez Torres is scheduled to appear in court next on July 19th.   

“To be honest, he deserve the death penalty for what he did to this kid, this kid did not deserve this,” said Abby Carrasquillo.

She was one of the many people who stopped by to take a moment at the makeshift memorial for Nabra Hassanen on Dranesville Rd. Carrasquillo broke down in tears as-soon-as she pulled up and said, her daughter was a long-time friend of Nabra’s.

Not everyone we spoke to Thursday believes in capital punishment, but just about everyone we talked to is in pain.

“I wish I was outside. Every day I drive by I feel the guilt I wish I was outside,” said one man, who screamed in grief at one point.

If anything, the people dropping by just hope Nabra’s parents see how many people are behind them.

“They must keep going, you know, for those three little girls they got left,” said Carrasquillo, “and hopefully, you know, justice can be done. Hard justice.”

Friday, the founder of the Loudoun Freedom Center says she’s planning to have around 12 Christan Pastors from various churches stand outside of the Sterling Mosque to greet and pray for the ADAMS Mosque members as they go in for a late morning prayer service.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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