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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Antolin Garcia Torres, Sierra LaMar Murder Suspect, Expected to Enter Plea Today (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Antolin Garcia-Torres
  • Antolin Garcia-Torres
Update (10:48 a.m.): Garcia-Torres failed to appear at his hearing this morning. He is now scheduled to enter his plea in court on Aug. 29.

Original story: Antolin Garcia-Torres, the man accused of kidnapping and murdering 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, is expected to appear in court Tuesday where he will finally enter a plea.

The hearing is slated for 9:30 a.m. at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. Police have yet to recover LaMar's body or any weapons, however, prosecutors say they can prove the suspect  kidnapped and murdered the Sobrato High School sophomore.

Garcia-Torres' DNA was discovered on some of LaMar's clothing, which was found on the side of the road a few days after she went missing on March 16. Although Garcia-Torres, 21, is eligible for the death penalty, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has not yet decided whether to ask for death in this case. The DA did not pursue the death penalty for any of the last five eligible cases.

For now, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office has suspended its search for the girl's body, but has search teams on standby, ready to respond to new information as it becomes available, Sgt. Jose Cardoza said.

"Tips continue to come in," Cardoza said. However, "it's been a couple of weeks since we last got a tip."

In late March and April, investigators scoured waterways looking for LaMar's body. Her mother said she last saw LaMar when she was getting ready for school the morning of March 16. LaMar's final communication came when she sent two text messages to a friend, making plans to meet up at school that day.

But LaMar never made it to class, and has not been seen or heard from since.

Police identified Garcia-Torres as a suspect early on, but didn't arrest him until late May. Instead, authorities placed surveillance on him to see if he would lead them to her body.

After his arrest, police revealed to the public that Garcia-Torres' DNA was found on her clothing, and traces of LaMar's DNA was also found inside his red Jetta. They wouldn't reveal what DNA they found, but insisted it was not blood.

The case grew even more dramatic after Garcia-Torres' attorney recused himself from the case, citing a conflict of interest. Turns out, his lawyer was already representing Garcia-Torres' father, who has been accused of molesting his daughter.

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Suzanne Stathatos

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