Updated: Sierra LaMar Murder Suspect Waives Arraignment on Murder Charge

Suspect Antolin Garcia-Torres did not enter a plea to the charge, which could have him facing the death penalty.

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.

Larry Arzie June 01, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I don't doubt the law has the right man. Lets let it play out without the vitriol.
Joni Holland June 01, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I think it would strengthen his case and maybe instead qualify him for life without parole( if in fact he is the murderer) to give the family relief and let them know where the body is. This is so sad and is such needless anguish for her family.
Kell June 01, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Joni, I agree that he should just tell the family where she is in exchange for life without parole. There was a guy in San Diego who did that, they had him for kidnap and rape as well of a your girl. Just give her poor family relief.
Sandy Mann June 01, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I still have never heard an explanation of why the police think she's dead. What's the evidence?
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Sheriff's investigators have said they have "direct and circumstantial" evidence leading them to believe she's dead. They won't reveal the details of the evidence, which will surely be made public during the trial. Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has said this was a stranger abduction, the worst kind and one that often has dire consequence for the victim. She was also believed to be a very social teen who constantly used social media to communicate and stay in touch, but there's been no contact, whatsoever since her disappearance. I hope this answers your question. I know there are many who are praying she's alive and still searching for her. Our hearts go out to all those mourning the loss of this young life. A shout-out to my colleague and friend Corinne Speckert for doing an amazing job at covering this case.
Steve Sapiro June 01, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Steve Sapiro 8:16 am on Friday, June 1, 2012 He is now being advised by his attorney. The discovery of evidence process and findings will result in both what his plea will be and if any deal will be had. The only thing that will change this or speed it up, would be the finding of Sierra. This is the key issue for all concerned. If there is a trial, unless Sierra is found, I don't think the trial will take place anywhere in Santa Clara, San Benito, or Monterey counties.
Steve Sapiro June 01, 2012 at 03:40 PM
He is now being advised by his attorney. It will depend on the discovery of evidence process whether a plea of guilty will be had or any deal made. The only thing that could change or alter this is the key issue, of finding Sierra, before any trial. Without the finding of Sierra, and the linking of the same to the suspect, I don't believe a trial will take place in Santa Clara, San Benito, or Monterey counties. This suspect should definitely be on suicide watch at least until Sierra is found.
Corinne Speckert June 01, 2012 at 06:59 PM
It's hard to say, Sandy. The death determination is based off of forensic and circumstantial evidence. For circumstantial, investigators say there's no way Sierra could have run away from home because she's not a runaway candidate based off her background. She has a great personal life, including a solid relationship with her family and she has never runaway before. Her cell phone was also found, which further leads investigators to believe she was kidnapped because she's extremely social and has been described by friends as being glued to her cell phone. The forensic evidence points to the DNA found on the suspect's car and on Sierra's clothing items. The problem with the forensic evidence is that authorities won't release specific details, which leaves many questions, specifically the question of why they think she's dead. Details about that evidence should be revealed when the trial begins, but for now all we can do is believe that sheriff's personnel wouldn't make such a claim unless they could back it up 100 percent...
hyyy June 01, 2012 at 08:35 PM
He and soo many like him did all this and still walked free time after time.When will Americans get involved with our own justice system and change all these stupid laws??You get more time in jail for drugs then sex crimes against humans.
Raquel Suarez June 01, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I agree, perhaps he is going to give them her location in exchange for life vs death in prison. Just hope she is alive.
lovetogutyou June 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I'm guessing that this idiot thinks that as long as he keeps his mouth shut about where this poor baby's body is then he can keep denying his guilt...hoping that the DNA they have is not enough. And by doing so keeps the family in excruciating pain. UGH, this whole story makes me so sick. I think about this family all the time. Hope they can have closure soon but it still will not lessen their pain. My thoughts and tears with them every day!
Raquel Suarez June 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Another forensic evidence trial. Only no body. I hope he doesn't walk free like Casey Anthony did.
Dfballou June 01, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Hey Raquel- why would he give up her body (as you state) for a lessor charge? and you hope she is alive, Don't you think that if she was alive, he would have already done that! Then he would be out of jail as to no Murder was committed. He would maybe still be in jail for other crimes committed again'st her thou.
chevyguy June 01, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Why was/is this guy on the streets. set free to committ this crime against a young child This group of molesters need to be jailed, hung put away from society. If a person files a wrongful complaint against another person. The false charge is proven then put that person behind bars. The man just freed after his accuser said he he did not do the crime. The guy spent some 11 years in jail. The girl needs to be put behind bars for 11 years.
Raquel Suarez June 01, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Well actually I said give them her "location" not her body. I dont know what punishment exactly that would bring, but what ever helps bring closure to this case...
Mary Smith June 01, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Raquel Suarez ... My thoughts exactly! Casey Anthony's trial was a travesty! I could NEVER be on a jury in a case such as this, nor would they want me on such a jury, because I would say "Screw the law! I'm going with what I KNOW in my gut is the real truth!"
melissa flores June 01, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I was thinking the same exact thing but what sucks is if he gets convicted our system is even more flawed
Kathi Szymczak June 01, 2012 at 11:41 PM
this is for Dfballou - there was a kidnapped barista named Samantha Koenig here in Anchorage a few months ago. She too was thought to still be alive when tragically, she wasnt! When they arrested the scumbag who killed her, he told authorities where to find her body and it came out later that he had contacted Sam's Dad for months after he kidnapped her and extorted a ransom, all the while, knowing he killed her w/in 24 hours of abducting her. So yes, douchebags can lie and will continue to until they know they cant anymore. They all think they can beat the charge.
Mary Smith June 02, 2012 at 12:04 AM
melissa flores ... I'm sorry ... what?? Please explain.
S.Gail June 02, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I have a daughter who's going to be 15 this month. My heart hurts for Sierras mother... When a dog attacks a human, they put it to sleep. Why? Because they cannot take the chance of it happening again. I, as a mother would not lose 1 nights sleep if they put this heartless & soulless animal to sleep. He's already dead inside anyway...
LUISA MANER June 07, 2012 at 02:35 AM


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