As the Sierra LaMar murder trial entered its second week, the teen's friends and her alleged drug use, a subject previously off-limits, took center stage Monday.
It was a curious decision by the prosecution to bring up Sierra's alleged drug use in open court after both sides had agreed not to broach the subject. It was the prosecution that was worried about the defense going off on "little character assassination tangents" about the victim.
But the prosecutor himself addressed the topic Monday as Sierra’s friends testified, opening the door for the defense to mention the 15-year-old allegedly used ecstasy and marijuana.
The defense was trying to infer that Sierra may have turned to drugs because her home life was not a happy one in direct contradiction to what the prosecution was trying to establish with her friends' testimony, legal analyst Steven Clark said.
"Maybe Sierra wasn’t as happy as everyone thinks, and since the DA opened that door, the defense now wants to show a different picture," Clark said.
Defendant Antolin Garcia Torres, who faces the death penalty if convicted, looked away whenever the prosecutor flashed an image or video of Sierra on the big screen TV inside the courtroom. Alejandra Kendrick got choked up on those occasions.
Kendrick called herself one of Sierra’s good friends in Morgan Hill and testified that she hasn’t seen or heard from the teen since March 15, 2012, the day before Sierra vanished.
"What the DA is trying to emphasize with her friends is that things were going good at home," Clark said. "She was a happy-go-lucky teenager and that she had no reason to run away."
The defense argued that things may not have been going well at home, that Sierra hated living in Morgan Hill and wanted to move back to Fremont.
Sierra's mother is slated to testify this week, in what's expected to be the most emotional part of the trial.
Another friend mentioned that Sierra talked about running away from home. That was when she was in eighth grade, at least two years before the high school sophomore vanished.