Police say Muslim girl's killing near Virginia mosque was not hate crime

A man accused of killing a teenage Muslim girl appeared in a Virginia court on Monday morning to face a murder charge, the court clerk's office said, as police said the killing was not being investigated as a hate crime.

Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, was in his car when he got into a dispute with the 17-year-old girl and a group of her friends before dawn on Sunday in Sterling in Northern Virginia, about 30 miles (48 km) outside Washington, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Martinez got out of the car and assaulted the girl, police said.

The girl and her friends were to have their last meal at a nearby International House of Pancakes, a fast-food chain, before fasting for Ramadan, the Washington Post reported.

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STERLING, VA - JUNE 1:Tasneem Moiz, 8-months, plays in the beard of her maternal grandfather, Khalid Iqbal, at the home of Iqbal's daughter, Sadaf Iqbal, on June 1, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Ibrahim Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Sadaf Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs.(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, 2nd from L, reads to his middle daughter, Maryam, 2, as his other daughters, Tasneem, 8mo, and Asiyah, 4, entertain themselves at Moiz's home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and his wife Sadaf Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, C, leads his two older daughters, Maryam, 2, L, and Asiyah, 4, to their bedroom near bedtime at their home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - JUNE 1: Sadaf Iqbal, R, receives her daughter, Maryam, 2, with open arms at the family's home on June 1, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Behind them is a wallhanging that bears a famous quote from the Qur'an called the 'Verse of the Throne' done by a Chinese Muslim master calligrapher named Haji Noor Deen. Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, and her husband, Ibraham Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, R, gives his daughter, Asiyah, 4, a high-five for using proper manners at the snack table as Moiz's wife, Sadaf Iqbal, L, works on the computer at their home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Her friends sought help at a nearby mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the mosque said in a statement. The mosque added extra overnight prayers sessions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when devout Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.

Police arrested Martinez after he was seen driving suspiciously, and found what they believe to be the body of the girl later Sunday in a nearby pond.

It was not immediately clear whether Martinez had a lawyer and whether he had entered a plea to the charge of second-degree murder during an initial court appearance. The county prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to questions.

Neither the police nor the mosque confirmed the identity of the girl, but an online fundraising page and local media named her as Nabra Hussein.

The girl and her friends were dressed in abayas, the robe-like dress worn by some Muslim women, according to the Post, prompting fears that the victim was targeted because she was Muslim.

Fairfax police said in a statement on Monday morning that they were not investigating the murder as a hate crime.

Police did not say whether Martinez and the girl knew each other.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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