SAN JOSE, CA -- The man suspected of killing a 15-year-old Northern California girl waived his arraignment Thursday afternoon on one count of murder with the special circumstance of kidnapping.
The charge against Sierra LaMar accused killer Antolin Garcia-Torres is eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet decided whether to pursue that possible sentence.
A dozen Sierra LaMar supporters with signs such as "Stay strong, Sierra" were outside the courthouse in support of missing teen Sierra LaMar.
Garcia-Torres, who did not enter a plea, is being represented by Ken Mandel, public defender. The defendant's next court appearance is set for 2 p.m. on July 10, San Jose Hall of Justice, Department 23.
The prosector in the case is Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd.
Presiding over what was supposed to be his arraignment Thursday was Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler who told Garcia-Torres he has a right to a preliminary examination within 60 days of his first court date.
Nadler asked Garcia-Torres if he understood his rights, and he answered in the affirmative. "Yes, I do, your honor," he said in a low-tone voice, his hands and feet shackled and wearing jail garb.
Criminologist Steve Clark, an attorney who works as a legal analyst providing commentary on high-profile court cases for various news outlets, explained Mandel asked for more time to meet with Garcia-Torres to analyze the forensic evidence allegedly linking him to Sierra's murder.
"He could have had his preliminary hearing within 10 days from today, but that would have been a very risky strategy ... this is a heavily forensic evidence case that relies on DNA evidence. You're not going to rely on what the prosecution says is relevant about the DNA, you want your own experts," Clark said.
On May 24, however, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen filed the murder charge and held a press conference outside the courthouse announcing prosecutor David Boyd would try the high-profile case that's grabbed national headlines for the past few months since Sierra vanished on March 16 on her way to catch the morning bus to Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill.
Rosen said the murder charge is eligible for the death penalty.
He's being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose.
Court records obtained by Patch Tuesday reveal Garcia-Torres had his run-ins with public safety authorities in Morgan Hill and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
Meanwhile, Klaas Kids Foundation volunteers continue their search for Sierra with a new effort scheduled for Saturday. Those participating are being asked to report to the "Find Sierra Search Center" at Burnett Elementary School at 85 Tilton Road in Morgan Hill.
Emma Spencer, a volunteer parent with the Sierra search team, said she had come with friends to the courthouse to get the word out that, "She's still missing. She needs to be found. We need more volunteers to come out and continue to look for her. Her family wants her home."
Clarification: This article has been revised. An earlier version said Antolin Garcia Torres had been arraigned, when in fact he waived his arraignment and is expected to enter a plea at 2 p.m., July 10.