Virginia rape suspect walks free from jail, allegedly murders rape victim to stop her testimony

A Maryland man indicted on rape charges last year and released because of the coronavirus epidemic shot dead the woman who accused him, police said, according to the Washington Post.

Ibrahim E. Bouaichi, 33, was accused of rape, sodomy, strangulation, abduction, burglary, and malicious wounding in the October 10, 2019, attack on Karla Dominguez at her Alexandria, Virginia apartment, and she testified in December that it was violent and anything but consensual.The grand jury dropped the malicious wounding charge in its indictment.

But when the coronavirus epidemic struck, Bouiaichi’s attorneys argued that it was too dangerous both for their client and themselves for him to remain in jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors strenuously objected, but Circuit Court Judge Nolan Dawkins, who has since retired, released Bouaichi on $25,000 bond on April 9. He was ordered not to leave his Maryland home except to meet his attorneys, the Post said.

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On July 29, Alexandria police said, Bouiachi went back to Alexandria and shot dead Dominguez outside her apartment. Police obtained a warrant for his arrest on a murder charge and had been searching for him ever since, finally spotting him Wednesday morning. A pursuit resulted in a crash, but when police went to arrest him, they found Bouiachi had shot himself, Alexandria police said. He was said to be in grave condition on Thursday.

Bouaichi’s attorneys, Manuel Leiva and Frank Salvato, had argued Bouiachi and Dominguez “were boyfriend/girlfriend” in a bond motion that was denied in March. They said in a statement this week that they were “certainly saddened by the tragedy both families have suffered here” and that they had been “looking forward to trial.”

“Unfortunately the pandemic continued the trial date by several months and we didn’t get the chance to put forth our case,” they said.

In April, Leiva and Salvato argued that coronavirus restrictions at the jail meant that Bouaichi was “being effectively deprived of legal counsel.” They argued they were barred from face to face meetings with their client and only allowed video conferences for 30 minutes at a time, although Alexandria jail spokeswoman Amy Bertsch said that they allow in person visits on request, but “we do not have any record of Mr. Leiva or his co-counsel requesting a face-to-face visit with Ibrahim Bouaichi after the protocols went into effect in late March.”

Bertsch also said the jail allows longer video conferences and that “there were no cases of COVID-19 at the jail during their client’s incarceration.”

Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan L. Porter told the Post that he argued that Virginia law should have prevented Bouaichi’s release because of “the violent nature of the alleged offense.” He did not provide details of the attack because the rape charges are still pending.

Dominguez was a native of Venezuela and had no family in the area, the Post said.

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[Featured image: Ibrahim Bouaichi/Alexandria Police Department]