Sierra LaMar Trial: Garcia-Torres defense: Evidence is far from conclusive

- In day two of the long awaited murder trial of Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar, the defense delivered its opening statements.

They argue LaMar's accused killer Antolin Garcia-Torres is innocent, and suggest no evidence exists that the teen is dead.

Prosecution called its first witness in a Santa Clara County courthouse on Tuesday.

The witness is a Santa Clara County Sheriff deputy who responded to the 911 call when Sierra disappeared.

He said deputies searched everywhere looking for her.

Earlier Tuesday defense attorneys attacked the prosecution's DNA evidence saying it had been contaminated.

"It's clear from this case that the battleground is going to be the DNA evidence and what the defense did today is to suggest that it was contaminated at the outset," said legal analyst Steven Clark.

The defense claims investigators didn't follow protocol when handling evidence - including a backpack with the 15-year-old's clothing that prosecutors say had Garcia-Torres's DNA.

The defense argues the backpack was dumped on an unsanitary cork board surface.

There is the question of the rope in Garcia-Torres car with Sierra's hair. The defense says when first photographed by authorities, the rope didn't have hair.

Defense attorneys also question why reflective beads which were found on Sierra's jeans were not found in Garcia-Torres' trunk.

"If they can suggest the DNA is not properly analyzed, it was not properly collected and if it's not reliable, that completely undermines a case where there is no crime scene and there is no body," said Clark.

The defense also attacked charges Garcia-Torres tried to kidnap three women in 2009. Prosecutors say

Garcia-Torres' fingerprint was found on a stun gun battery from one attack.

The defense argues Garcia-Torres worked at Safeway and handled batteries.

Search volunteer Roger Nelson says despite the defense's claims he believes Sierra is not alive. He hopes this trial will provide answers.

Prosecutors say Garcia Torres admitted he was in the area the day Sierra went missing. He said he was on his way to go fishing.

Prosecutors also say surveillance video shows Garcia-Torres buying bleach and a turkey baster - days before Sierra's disappearance. Bleach is often used to kill DNA.

The defense argued Tuesday Garcia-Torres bought bleach for laundry.

The prosecution expected to call up more witnesses Wednesday.

 

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