The Santa Clara County public defender first assigned to represent the Morgan Hill man charged with kidnapping and killing 15-year-old Sierra LaMar is no longer on the case because of a conflict of interest, NBC Bay Area has learned.
Following a court hearing Thursday morning, Ken Mandel will no longer be representing Antolin Garcia-Torres, who has not yet entered a plea in answering to charges that he took Sierra on March 16. She was on her way to Sobrato High, but never made it there. Prosecutors say that she was killed at some point, though her body has still not been found.
Garcia-Torres' case has now been referred to the alternate public defender's office, which is similar to a public defender and is a routine alternative when the public defender can no longer represent someone.
A source said that Mandel's conflict of interest arose because his office is representing Garcia-Torres' father, Genaro Garcia, who is in Santa Clara County Jail on allegations he sexually abused a relative. He was charged with 11 counts of lewd and lascivious acts, and three counts of aggravated sexual assault with a minor under 14.
Garcia-Torres' is now set to enter a plea on July 31 with his new lawyer.
To see a report on Garcia-Torres not entering a plea, click here.
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