SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The fate of the man accused of killing Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar will soon rest in the hands of a jury. On Tuesday, closing arguments are set to begin in the trial of Antolin Garcia Torres.
The trial lasted three months. Sierra’ body has never been found. The prosecution relied heavily on DNA evidence. The defense stating Sierra may still be alive.
Five years after Sierra LaMar disappeared, jurors could decide this week if Antolin Garcia Torres kidnapped and killed the 15-year-old who vanished in Morgan Hill on her way to school in 2012.
“The first big decision the jury will have to make is whether Sierra LaMar could still be alive,” said Legal Analyst Steven Clark.
Clark said neither the prosecution nor the defense has left any stone unturned. Without a body nor a crime scene, prosecutors from the start building its forensic evidence which included Garcia Torres’s DNA found on Sierra’s clothing. Her hair found on a rope in the trunk of his car.
“Each singular piece of evidence can be explained but when you look at it in totality the only reasonable explanation from the prosecution perspective is Garcia Torres is in fact responsible for her death,” said Clark.
The defense attacking the handling of that evidence, going after Sierra’s character suggesting she ran away.
“We know she didn't runaway and we've had evidence to prove that,” said Search Volunteer Renee Figueira. “He doesn't know her. Our evidence says she was in his car what was she doing in his car?"
Figueira is among the hundreds of search volunteers who spent years looking for Sierra. She feels confident the jury will find Garcia Torres guilty.
“Just because we have not found her body does not prove he did not kidnap and murder her,” said Figueira. “It really does not prove that.”
Garcia Torres did not testify. Legal experts said that's expected since he would have likely had to answer to the three other attempted kidnapping charges he faces from 2009. Pivotal testimony came from Sierra’s mother who said the 15 year old would never run away.. and had no means to support herself.
“I cannot imagine the pain for the LaMars, for Sierra’s friends, for their extended family,” said Search Volunteer Roger Nelson.
Emotions aside jurors must now base their decision on the law and evidence as family and friends anxiously await if justice will be served.
Legal analyst Steven Clark anticipates a long jury deliberation process. If the jury finds Garcia Torres guilty of murder, it then moves to the penalty phase. It could take weeks since Garcia Torres faces the death penalty.