Stephen Ellison

Garcia Torres Sentencing is Not the End of Sierra LaMar Case

Defendant files motion for a new trial based on a previously overturned murder conviction

The months-long Sierra LaMar murder trial came to a close Monday with a life-without-parole term for convicted killer Antolin Garcia Torres. But the case is not quite over.

Garcia Torres' defense team filed a motion for a new trial, and a hearing is scheduled for September.

One significance about Monday's decision is even if a new trial is granted, Garcia Torres will never again face the death penalty.

Legal analyst Steven Clark says the fact Sierra's body has never been found and Garcia Torres himself has young children likely played a role in the jury's decision.

"I think the impact of his relationship with his children, even if it is behind bars, weighed on them," Clark said. "They consider those kids victims in this case, and it's likely another reason they spared his life."

The new trial motion is based on a precedent case, where a judge recently overturned a murder conviction based largely on false statistical evidence given by Sgt. Herman Leon, who also testified during the Sierra LaMar trial.

"The first order is for the court to consider the new trial," Clark said. "If that happens, they will have to start from scratch."

Clark said even if another jury convicts Garcia Torres again, he wont face the same potential punishment.

"If there was a new trial, it would only be for life in prison," he said. "The death penalty wound not be reinstated since the jury said today it is not a death case."

Clark said a new trial likely would be held in another county given all the media coverage of the case.

If a new trial is not granted, then Sierra's family will get to address Garcia Torres directly during formal sentencing with a victim impact statement.

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