Proposition on November Ballot Impacting Sierra LaMar Murder Case

A ballot measure up for a decision in the November election is playing a significant role in the Sierra Lamar murder case.

Members of Antolin Garcia-Torres' defense team are pushing for the trial to start after the election because of Proposition 62, which, if approved, would repeal the death penalty in California.

Of the other side of the courtroom, prosecutors are demanding that jury selection begin as soon as possible so that potential jurors can hear a case with the death penalty still on the table.

"What you tend to get in a death penalty case is much more conservative jurors because they are not philosophically opposed to the death penalty in principle," legal analyst Steven Clark said.

Clark added that conservative juries are more likely to rule on the side of capital punishment.

But if the death penalty is ultimately taken off the books, a jury would favor the defense, Clark says.

"The real issue at this point is what is the jury makeup going to be for Mr. Garcia Torres," Clark said. "And it would be very different if jury selection starts after November 8 and the death penalty is abolished."

The leader of LaMar's search team did not offer an opinion of the legislation on the ballot. Roger Nelson simply said he hopes voters think carefully about Prop 62.

"My hope is Californians take into consideration victims, families and extended family members when they go to the ballots," he said.

LaMar disappeared from Morgan Hill in 2012 while she was on her way to school. Her body has yet to be recovered, but prosecutors say DNA evidence links Torres to the case.

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