Judge postpones setting trial date in Sierra LaMar case

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - Next month marks three years since Sierra LaMar was last seen near her South Bay home and her accused killer is still awaiting trial.

On Wednesday, a judge once again postponed setting a date for Antolin Garcia-Torres' trial. His defense team said it needed more time.

"It's disappointing," said Doug Tollis who helps with the search effort for Sierra LaMar. "They just keep prolonging it and prolonging it. To me and the rest of the crew, we just think it's a bunch of excuses. It's time to move forward."

The judge postponed setting a trial date for another six weeks. Garcia-Torres's attorneys they're working diligently but are hesitant to commit to a trial given the complexity of the case.

"Well you characterize it as reasonable," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd. "I would say this is not an unexpected delay."

Garcia-Torres was arrested in 2012, two months after LaMar vanished on her way to school in Morgan Hill. A grand jury indicted Garcia-Torres last year. He has maintained his innocence.

Legal Expert Steven Clark said the reason the process is taking so long is because the District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty and it's difficult since LaMar's body has never been found.

"When you have to get ready for the guilt phase and the penalty phase," said Clark. "The judge knows it requires a lot of time to make sure Garcia-Torres gets a fair trial."

"Yes it's frustrating," said Sierra LaMar's father Steve LaMar. "You learn to manage it."

Steve LaMar supports the death penalty. He said he's never surprised when the case gets postponed. The District Attorney's Office warned the family that the case could take months if not years.

"You never get over it, you are always grieving, you just learn to manage and keep Sierra in our thoughts and prayers," said LaMar.

Garcia-Torres is expected to be back in court on April 8. His defense team has brought up changing the venue but so far, nothing has been filed.