Murder charges for Antolin Garcia Torres – the 21-year-old suspect accused of kidnapping and killing 15-year-old Sierra LaMar – ride the wake of a harried criminal past that includes arrests for assault, obstructing officers and having sex with a minor.
After being kept under 24-hour surveillance by detectives since for nearly two months until he was arrested May 21 at gunpoint outside the Safeway grocery store at Tennant Station. On Thursday, he was charged by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office with murder and a special circumstance of kidnapping Sierra, who has been missing since March 16. Her body has not been found.
Now locked away inside the Santa Clara County Main Jail awaiting his arraignment Thursday, May 31, this isn’t Garcia Torres’ first time behind bars. The 6 foot, 180 pound Hispanic man has a lengthy rap sheet with the law, according to court documents obtained by the Dispatch.
Court records paint a different picture of the man Garcia Torres’ mother and sisters call kind and a good father. A former classmate called Garcia Torres “a sweetheart.” In just three years since becoming a legal adult, 21-year-old Garcia Torres has been arrested twice and a suspect in a string of shocking Morgan Hill assaults outside the same Tennant Station Safeway Garcia Torres was employed and the scene of his arrest for Sierra’s murder Monday night.
Obstructing an officer, May 29, 2009
Around 6:15 p.m. on May 29, 2009, Morgan Hill police conducted a probation compliance check for a wanted man, Agustin Chavez, who had listed his address as Garcia Torres’ then address: 14245 Llagas Ave., a farmhouse in rural San Martin.
Three police officers approached the home when a second wanted man, Jared Disalvo, spotted police and ran inside.
“We yelled at him to stop, but he ran inside the residence,” a Morgan Hill police officer said in a statement. Disalvo had an outstanding felony warrant for domestic abuse of $100,000 with the MHPD.
Officers describe yelling at Disalvo, telling him to stop. Once police went inside, four other people were there – including Antolin Garcia Torres, then 18 years old, who came out of a side bedroom and immediately “began yelling profanity at us,” court documents show.
Garcia Torres yelled, “Get out of my house you f—-ing pigs!” and continued to yell “Get the f— out!”
“As he yelled, he postured as if he wanted to physically fight with us,” court documents say. An officer told Garcia Torres to step aside so police could arrest a felon, but Garcia Torres refused and stood in the officer’s path, according to court records.
As Garcia Torres continued to walk in a threatening manner, the officers grabbed his arms in a wrist lock and attempted to escort him outside, but he continued to yell and resist. Once outside, he was placed into handcuffs, though he still yelled profanity and tried on two occasions to stand up, when asked to sit down. His sister, whose name is not mentioned in court documents, came out of the home at one point, to which Garcia Torres yelled “I better not put my hands on her” and “If you f—-ing touch my sister I’ll … you better not have touched my sister.”
As this was happening, Disalvo was in a back bathroom bathtub and he was taken into custody without incident. Chavez, the wanted man police were after initially, was not at the home that day.
Police arrested Garcia Torres for obstruction of a police officer and vandalism of a jailhouse cell.
Due to Torres’ level of combativeness and his obstruction of allowing us to perform out duties, he was arrested for obstructing a police officer and booked with MHPD.
Police received a statement from Garcia Torres after he was booked at MHPD, where he asked what he was being charged with.
“(Garcia Torres) said he did not think we handled the situation very well. He stated we had no right to run into his house … He said police should not be allowed to just run into someone’s residence,” court records show.
At about 7:48 p.m. the same day, Garcia Torres was placed alone in a cell at MHPD, waiting to be transferred to Santa Clara County Main Jail.
While inside, Garcia Torres apparently stuffed an entire roll of toiler paper into the toilet bowl until it was about to overflow, court records show.
When asked to remove it, Garcia Torres did and said he tried to flood the cell because he was bored.
Also while in the cell, Garcia Torres removed his shorts and using the metal rivets on his shorts etched “I seen it” on the bench inside the cell. The graffiti was about 2 inches tall by 20 inches long. After police saw it, he said he was sorry and requested to write an apology letter.
“I’m sorry for what I did by writing ‘I seen it’ on the seet (sic) I was there for a long time and didn’t know what to do I got bored in there,” Garcia Torres wrote.
He was arrested for willfully resisting, delaying and obstructing a peace officer and vandalism (less than $400 in damage.) Both misdemeanors.
Antolin Garcia Torres chose to represent himself in court and waived his right to an attorney. In that document from Aug. 13, 2009, he stated he went to Central Continuation High School but had not graduated and had a job working at Safeway.
He was sentenced to serve five days in jail.
Felony battery, having sex with a minor
Garcia Torres was back in handcuffs roughly a year later when he was arrested at the age of 19 for felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury.
It was also discovered by police who were dispatched June 16, 2010 to this particular disturbance call – which occurred at the same San Martin home at 14245 Llagas Ave. – that Torres had unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman under the of 18, who was less than three years younger than Garcia Torres. The teenage girl was seven months pregnant with Garcia Torres’ child, according to police reports. Garcia Torres is married to Francine Sarmiento, who graduated from Live Oak in 2010 – together they have a 20-month-old daughter and are expecting another baby in November.
The altercation occurred around 9:20 a.m. at the property in San Martin, which Garcia Torres’ mother owned. Garcia Torres was renting the house to his sister and his sister’s friend, who had not been able to pay rent. The two claimed to have made an agreement with Garcia Torres, which would have given the tenants more time before moving out, according to court documents.
Garcia Torres, however, became “frustrated” with the tenants. He removed the air conditioning unit from the home and threw it through one of the windows the morning of June 16, 2010, according to court documents. He then told the tenants they had two hours to move out, reports state. When his sisters’ roommate asked Garcia Torres for more time, Garcia Torres replied “get the (expletive) out. You’re pissing me off,” according to the police report.
A brawl ensued between Garcia Torres and the roommate. Garcia Torres later justified his hurry to get the tenants off the property by explaining to police he had a baby on the way, and didn’t “want no tweakers around,” according to the report.
Police reports state Garcia Torres threw the first punch and hit the victim multiple times. The scuffle caused the victim to suffer nausea, vomiting and a laceration that required multiple stitches, according to court documents.
Garcia Torres was arrested, slapped with a $25,000 bail, served five days in jail and was ordered to take a 16-week parenting and anger management class after being convicted on a misdemeanor charge for battery. A second count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor was also filed against Garcia Torres, although this charged was dropped.
Attempted assaults on females
Garcia Torres’ arrest in 2009 and 2011 are unrelated to a third assault in which Garcia Torres has been implicated. Authorities also believe Garcia Torres was the suspect in at least one event in a string of attempted assaults on women in the parking lots of both Safeway grocery stores in Morgan Hill in March 2009, Sheriff Laurie Smith said.
In those incidents, a man approached three different women at night as they were entering their parked vehicles, or while they were sitting in the cars by themselves preparing to drive away. In one incident the suspect used a stun gun to attempt to subdue a woman after he entered her vehicle through the rear passenger’s door.
In another, he entered an 18-year-old woman’s vehicle in a similar fashion, and when the woman grabbed a pocket knife to try to defend herself he grabbed her hand that was holding the knife and placed it close to her throat, police said.
In all three incidents the suspect was frightened away by the screaming victims or passersby, and was unable to inflict serious injuries or assault, police said.