Santa Clara County

Experts, Evidence Suppression and Negative Publicity Addressed in Sierra LaMar Murder Trial

Two key issues were addressed Wednesday in the trial phase of the man accused of killing missing teenager Sierra LaMar.

Antolin Garcia Torres, 22, sat quietly in court as attorneys discussed whether the upcoming trial should be moved because of pre-trial publicity as well as whether his alleged statements to officers should be allowed as evidence.

Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar went missing March 16, 2012 and later Torres was arrested and charged with murder even though no body has been found.

Judge Vanessa Zecher took up the defense request to suppress statements reportedly made to Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies as well as evidence discovered during searches of Torres' car and home.

But after deputy Eric Barton testified in general about a car stop of Torres in April 2012, the prosecution said another witness was unavailable until Thursday.

Proceedings quickly shifted to the change of venue request.

The defense team called on retired California State University, Chico professor Ed Bronson and requested he be allowed to testify as an expert on issues related to the impact of pre-trial publicity on jury selection.

Bronson said he has been a consultant on numerous high profile cases including the Boston Marathon bombing and the Unibomber, and is expected to recommend the Torres trial be moved due to negative pre-trial media coverage.

NBC Bay Area legal expert Steven Clark says he expects the prosecution to counter that the coverage was not excessive and that the South Bay offers a diverse pool of jurors.

Clark says the upcoming battle over suppression of evidence will be crucial because Torres' possibly incriminating statements and the DNA allegedly linking him to the victim are the keys to the prosecution's case.

Contact Us