SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) -- After years of delays, a trial date was set Wednesday for the man accused of kidnapping and killing Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar.
A Santa Clara County judge set an April 25 trial date for Antolin Garcia-Torres. He’s the only suspect in the disappearance of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar.
LaMar’s family said supporters said it is one step toward closure in a case that has seen countless delays. LaMar’s body has never been found.
Back in 2012, Garcia-Torres was charged for the 15-year-old's murder and has been in jail this whole time. His attorneys said they're seeking to throw out a grand jury indictment, saying the proceeding was not fair and all the evidence that would have proved Garcia Torres’s innocence was not presented.
Legal expert Steven Clark said it’s not a surprising move considering it's a death penalty case.
"The April date should be viewed as an important date," said Clark. "It's clearly a placeholder date that could fluctuate greatly depending out the outcome of these pre-trial motions."
"Honestly the first reaction was shock because I had low expectations," said Sierra's father Steve LaMar by phone. "I didn't think it would happen anytime soon. The next reaction is relief. I'm glad we are making progress finally."
Steve LaMar was not in the courtroom Wednesday, but said he is planning to be at the trial.
Clark said if the defense is able to get the grand jury indictment thrown out, it doesn't mean Garcia-Torres will walk out of the courtroom. However, it would though force the district attorney’s office to start from scratch.
Back in March, the official searches for Sierra LaMar ended, but still a small group of people continue to look for her every month.
Garcia-Torres’s attorneys will also likely seek to change the venue for the trail given the intense media coverage and public interest. Clark said it will likely be very difficult to move this case given the national attention it has received.