A man accused of killing 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen appeared before a Virginia court Monday to face a murder charge, as police said the killing was not being investigated as a hate crime, according to county officials.
Giving no explanation for their decision, Fairfax police said Monday morning the murder — which included blows with a metal baseball bat — was not a hate crime, defined in Virginia as a crime motivated by bias against someone's race, religion or national origin.
The girl and her friends were dressed in abayas, the robe-like dress worn by some Muslim women, according to the Washington Post.
Darwin Martinez Torres was in his car when he got into a dispute with the girl and a group of her friends around 3 a.m. Sunday in Sterling, Virginia, about 30 miles outside Washington, D.C. Martinez got out of the car and assaulted Nabra, who was closest to him, police said.
The young girl was reported missing in the area after the other teens ran back to seek help at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, where they had just left to get food during an all-night prayer session in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the mosque said in a statement.
Police arrested Martinez an hour or two later after he was seen driving suspiciously, and found what they believe to be the girl's body Sunday night in a nearby pond.
Martinez was given a public defender during his appearance via video-link at the county's Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and the judge ordered that he remain in jail without bail, according to Raymond Morrogh, the Fairfax commonwealth's attorney, the county's chief prosecutor.
A grand jury will vote on which specific murder charge Martinez should face if any, Morrogh said.