Morgan Hill

Judge Delays Sierra LaMar Murder Case Again

The case started four years ago when the Morgan Hill teen disappeared while walking to a school bus stop.

A judge delayed the Sierra Lamar murder trial once again, and now the trial might not even take place in Santa Clara County.

Defense attorneys for accused killer Antolin Garcia-Torres said in open court Monday they plan to file a change-of-venue motion. If the judge grants the motion, the trial could take place anywhere in California.

Sierra’s family has lived through a lot of court delays. On Monday, the judge put it on hold again until next month.

This year alone, the case has appeared on the court calendar 16 times, and the trial hasn’t even started yet.

A case was delayed until June 17, when there will be a status hearing, because one of the attorneys in the case is handling another trial. Then, on July 29, the judge will hear change-of-venue arguments.

"A change of venue is an uphill battle for the defense," said legal analyst Steven Clark. "But when you have a high-stakes murder trial like this, it certainly is something the defense needs to bring to the court's attention."

The 15-year-old Sierra disappeared near her Morgan Hill home in March 2012. Her body has not been found.

Two months later, Garcia-Torres was arrested.

Prosecutors said DNA evidence found in Garcia-Torres' car and on Sierra's discarded clothing linked him to her death.

He didn’t enter a plea until 2014.

In April, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge granted the defense team more time to test evidence, and there have been other delays in between.

Garcia-Torres, 25, faces the death penalty if convicted of kidnapping and killing Sierra.

Sierra’s father previously said he knew that going for the death penalty might mean a longer wait for justice, but said he thought seeking that punishment was important for his daughter.

Garcia-Torres initially had requested a speedy trial, but in open court, he told a judge he is waiving that right because he sees progress in the proceedings.

Contact Us