Prosecutors on Tuesday delivered closing arguments in the trial of a man accused of killing Morgan Hill teen, Sierra LaMar.
If convicted, Antolin Garcia Torres faces the death penalty.
Taking jurors back to the start of the case, prosecutors played a recording of the emotional 911 call made by Sierra’s mother in March 2012, after she realized that her daughter was missing. Lead prosecutor David Boyd reminded jurors that Sierra’s hair was found on a rope in the suspect’s car.
Further, Garcia Torres spent five hours unaccounted for – plenty of time to hide the girl’s body, according to Boyd.
“It's very hard to come up with an innocent explanation of how Sierra’s hair ended up in Garcia Torres’ car,” said legal analyst Steven Clark. “What the DA has to deal with is no body, no murder weapon, no crime scene, so these small forensics are all she left behind.”
But in the absence such critical details, some question whether the evidence presented will be enough to convict Garcia Torres of killing the then 15-year-old.
Toward that end, prosecutors made a preemptive strike, poking holes in the defense’s claim that Sierra may have run away, which is why her body was never found. Boyd called the defense’s notion absurd and said that even though evidence collection may not have been perfect, whatever they have found has pointed to Garcia Torres being the killer.
“What the prosecution did very effectively is refute the defense theory before they have a chance to speak to the jury,” Clark said.
Sierra’s father, Steven LaMar, was in court on Tuesday, but declined to comment. He was flanked by more than dozen volunteers who once helped look for Sierra’s body in Morgan Hill.
Mary Doerning recalled hearing the tragic news five years ago that Sierra had disappeared.
“My heart just broke and I was so fearful of what had happened to this girl and her poor family,” she said.
As part of the trial, Garcia Torres is also accused of attacking three other women in Safeway parking lots in Morgan Hill. Prosecutors are using the evidence in those cases to establish a pattern of escalating violence.
“It makes it very clear how they were able to pick him as a perpetrator,” Doerning noted.