Sierra LaMar friends testify in murder trial of Antolin Garcia Torres

SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- For the first time in the murder trial of Antolin Garcia Torres, jurors heard Thursday from friends of Sierra LaMar about the last day the teen disappeared five years ago.

Defense lawyers spent their time trying to discredit the prosecution's forensic evidence.

Prosecutors argued that Sierra was not a runaway, which was bolstered by testimony from her high school classmate that the two had plans to meet up at school.

That meeting never happened and Sierra’s friend choked up talking about how Sierra would never abandon her friends and family.

Another of Sierra’s friends cried as the prosecution played video of Sierra stepping off the school bus the day before she disappeared. The two had exchanged text messages the morning of March 16, 2012, right before Sierra vanished on her way to the bus stop. Her body has never been found.

"No one plans for this (or) prepares their kid to lose a friend especially in the manner that it happened," said Kristin Stonehouse, a family friend.

Stonehouse’s daughter is also Sierra’s friend and among those testifying. Her daughter let Sierra borrow the San Jose Sharks sweatshirt Sierra was last seen wearing.

Stonehouse said her daughter and Sierra were both active on social media. Now, Sierra's accounts are silent.

"It was heart-breaking and it's unsettling when it first happened," Stonehouse said. "Everyone hugs their kids a little closer. You think you are safe waiting for the bus and that didn't turn out to be the case."

A Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy testified as the defense sought to undermine forensic evidence, which prosecutors have pinned their hopes on in order to obtain a guilty verdict.


"The defense definitely brought it's A game when it came to cross examining the main crime scene investigator in the case," said Steven Clark, a legal analyst.

The deputy appeared agitated as the defense attacked how the deputy collected Sierra’s belongings, which were found not far from where she was last seen.

At one point, the defense showed a dead bug in many evidence photos, suggesting the board that the evidence was placed on was not properly wiped down.

Clark said the prosecution's strategy is to show it's not just one piece of evidence that leads to Garcia-Torres.

"At the end of the day, it’s not going to matter,” he said. "You have to look at the quantum of evidence and against Mr. Garcia-Torres.”

In cross examination of Sierra’s friends, the defense painted a different picture of a teen who was angry at having to leave Fremont and move to Morgan Hill.

The friend testified that she had never seen Garcia-Torres before.