Sierra LaMar's mother took the stand Tuesday in the murder trial of the man prosecutors say kidnapped and killed her 15-year-old daughter nearly five years ago.
It was a very emotional day in the San Jose courtroom as Marlene LaMar repeatedly broke down on the witness stand while recalling the last time she ever talked to Sierra and her frantic search in the days after her disappearance.
Antolin Garcia Torres has been charged with Sierra's murder even though the teen's body has never been found. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Marlene LaMar sobbed at times as she recalled that her daughter said, "I love you, Mom" on the morning she disappeared. Marlene also talked about her desperate attempt to reach her daughter that afternoon, and prosecutors played her frantic 911 call for jurors.
Marlene cried again when she was asked to identify her daughter's purse, jeans and sweatshirt found in a field near their home.
Marc Klaas of the KlaasKids Foundation said it's one of the most difficult things any parent has to go through.
"It's probably one of the saddest occasions of her life," he said. "To recount the last moments of her daughter's life and then look at all the things that belonged to her that is now evidence."
Kelli Wilkins, a volunteer who searched for Sierra for months, came to court to support Marlene.
"It broke my heart watching her relive that all over again," Wilkins said.
Sierra was last seen in March 2012. She vanished after leaving her home in Morgan Hill, headed to a school bus stop.
Legal experts say her mother's testimony could help dispel any notion that she ran away, which has been the defense's contention.
"Marlene is key for the prosecution to establish that if she hasn't been seen in this many years, she must be deceased," legal analyst Steven Clark said.
Jurors also heard from Marlene's older sister, Danielle, who said she and Sierra were close, and the 15-year-old had never talked about running away.